According to AAA, summer marks the 100 deadliest days for teen drivers who get behind the wheel. Although summer offers young drivers an opportunity to travel and engage in other hobbies and activities, it also presents them with ample time to make mistakes behind the wheel. Unsurprisingly, Massachusetts and the surrounding New England region are seeing an increase in motor vehicle accidents involving teen motorists.
Last month, for example, a New England news source reported that two teenagers suffered severe injuries after the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a group of trees. Both occupants, one 19 and the other 17, were trapped inside the vehicle immediately after the collision.The passenger was flown to a local hospital and treated for severe injuries, while the driver was also treated for a number of physical injuries.
The State of Massachusetts has adopted Junior Operator Laws, which established an escalating set of education requirements, restrictions, and supervision for teenage drivers. The purpose of this program is to afford parents and guardians an opportunity to engage in a meaningful approach to teaching their teens how to drive, and to impress upon them the enormous responsibility that comes with getting behind the wheel.
Once 16, a Massachusetts teen can apply for a learner’s permit. After successfully completing six months at this stage, the driver can apply for a Junior Operator License that will last until the driver turns 18. In order to obtain a Junior Operator License, the applicant must pass a behind-the-wheel driving test and a state-approved drivers’ education class. The class typically includes two hours of parent/guardian supervised training, six hours in a vehicle observing other student drivers, and 12 hours of on-the-road training. The applicant must also verify that he or she has completed 30-40 hours of supervised vehicle operation.
After obtaining a Junior Operator License, the holder many not drive with other passengers in the vehicle under the age of 18 who are not immediate family members unless a driver over the age of 21 with at least one year of driving experience is also present in the vehicle. The law also requires that the accompanying 21-and-over adult sit in the passenger seat while the Junior Operator is driving.
Although Massachusetts does not have a law banning the use of cell phones while driving, drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using a cell phone while they possess a learner’s permit or provisional Junior Operator license. Additionally, the Junior Operator is prohibited from operating a vehicle between 12:30 AM and 5:00 AM unless a parent or guardian is present.
In addition to these special rules and requirements, the Junior Operator must also comply with Massachusetts vehicle insurance laws, which require all drivers to purchase a Compulsory Insurance policy with minimum coverage limits.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a motor vehicle accident involving a teen driver, the personal injury attorneys at The Law Offices of John S. Moffa can help. We proudly serve accident victims throughout Massachusetts and are ready to help you assert your rights and obtain the compensation that you deserve. Call us now at 1-866-476-0828 or contact us online to set up your free, no-obligation consultation today.
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