High school graduates

Teens: Celebrate Your Graduation Safely

Graduation is finally here! Let me guess, you suddenly feel older, more mature, and ready for anything? You are on your way into the work force or heading off to college. Either way, freedom is within reach and it is time to celebrate! There are so many parties, dinners, and other events, all in you and your peers’ honor. Temptation will surround you. Peer pressure will be high, and the euphoria of the event will be a different pressure. You may think something like, “if I have one drink, it is not a big deal, I deserve to celebrate.” You may hear, “just have one drink, it won’t hurt you.” Before you give into the temptation, know the facts. It could save your life, a friend’s life, or a stranger’s life.

Did you know?

  • 40, 000 people die every year in motor vehicle accidents
  • 16,000 of those deaths are alcohol or drug related
  • Graduation night is one night where impaired driving is most likely
  • There is a zero tolerance law for impaired driving under the age of 20

What are possible consequences of impaired driving?

  • Death of you, a friend, or stranger
  • Serious injury of you, a friend, or stranger
  • Loss of scholarships
  • Incarceration
  • Suspension or Revocation of your driver’s license
  • Fines

Think about this before you drink/drug drive. You have a best friend that you have known since you were eight years old. You both are excited about the after graduation party. You drive you and your best friend to the party. You both decide to have a few drinks and you even take a hit off the joint being passed around. After all, it is your night and you have the right to celebrate. That is the last thing you remember and now you are waking up in the hospital. You are seriously injured, but far worse, you find out that your best friend was killed in a car accident on the way home from the party, and you are responsible. Situations like this have happened before and it CAN happen to you? Do you want to wake up in the hospital with serious injuries and someone telling you that you are responsible for the death of your best friend? I doubt it.

What can you do to keep yourself and others safe?

  • Don’t drink or take drugs
  • If you are impaired, call for a ride (taxi, sober friend or family member, ect.)
  • Have a designated driver
  • Do not get in a car with anyone who is impaired
  • Sleep over

We can’t predict what others may do. So if you are riding with friends, have a plan if they become impaired. Know who you can call, be willing to ask for the keys, and if possible find out if they plan on drinking before going to the party with them. You may need to make alternate arrangements to get to the party.

It is an exciting time and you should celebrate your success. Your success can end in a matter of seconds with one bad decision. True freedom comes with smart decisions. Celebrate your entry into your adult life by making good decisions on your graduation night. Stay safe by staying sober.

Driving in other states on a restricted license

Taking Your Restricted Drivers License Across State Lines

Restricted license sure is a step-up from a learner’s permit, but it’s still not the unrestricted, seemingly-special license and for good reason. The graduated driving license (GDL) laws are designed to introduce teen drivers gradually into the driving environment by limiting distractions such as other teen passengers and cell phone use. The laws also restrict driving at night until the teen has gained a lot of driving experience. The GDL laws in your state may allow you to drive alone under certain circumstances but that law may not apply in other states.

No one under 18 – Most states only consider drivers eligible for application of the unrestricted license if they are over the age of 18. However other states, such as New York, prohibit unrestricted driving by anyone under the age of 21, even if they hold an unrestricted license in another state.

Each state’s DMV honors restriction put about by your state – If you receive a ticket in another state, your home state will be notified and your driving record will show the traffic offense just as if had been committed in your home state. Whatever points your home state applies to a particular offense will be added to your driving record. If you are caught violating the restricted driving rules of your state, you could be charged with driving without a valid license.

Double Trouble – If you commit a traffic offense in another state, you will have to pay the fines for that state and you will find that you will have points assessed in your own state. If the offense committed in another state puts you over the point limit in your home state, you could find that your license has been suspended. If your license is suspended in one state, all other states will honor that suspension.

Holding a driver’s license, even a restricted one means being responsible and following restrictions put about by the driver’s state. If you plan to travel to another state, you can go to that state’s DMV web site and find out if your privilege to drive in that state will be more or less restricted. It is better to do the homework first rather than finding out too late by receiving a traffic ticket.

For more information about driving laws visit your state see our DMV Department of Motor Vehicles Directory.

distracted texting teen

Measures Taken to Stop Distracted Driving

Each day, as it seems, more and more information about the dangers of distracted driving comes out — which increases the awareness of drivers about the growing problem. But what has been done? What exactly are organizations and individuals doing to combat distracted driving?

Forming Organizations

When you Google “distracted driving groups” it will yield several results — of individuals banding together, increasing awareness on distracted driving, on a local or country-wide basis. These can be as simple as asking people to pledge against distracted driving, like Oprah’s No Phone Zone, or wearing thumb socks to show a driver’s support for not texting while driving. These groups establish their presence online, in various social networking services, making it easier for their targets to get the message.

Enacting Laws

With the nationwide awareness on the shocking statistics of texting while driving, local governments have acted to put in motion laws that would prohibit cell phone usage while on the road. So far, more than 30 states have a law that places a ban on texting while behind the wheel, urging drivers to think twice before they pull out their phones, unless they want a penalty. For now, the options are being weighed on how to effectively enforce texting ban laws — but public support usually wins, and a law is enacted.

Phone/Text-blocker apps

Stopping phone use while on the road? Simple. Install a phone/text-blocker app. These applications interface the phone to the car’s GPS and if it sees that the car is in motion, the app disables the phone’s features. With crash-risk increasing 4 times/talking on the phone and 23 times/texting — it may help discipline the driver into not relying on their phones so much while on the road, until hopefully, they won’t have a need for such an application anymore. Learn more about apps like this including http://www.Textecution.com/.

Mock Crashes

Several local/teen driving advocacy groups have set up mock crashes to remind teen drivers (the group who are most likely to engage in texting while driving) what could potentially happen if they text and drive at the same time. In most places, the mock crashes are set up in a way that, the first things that teens going to school are going to see are wrecked cars, teen-drivers-playing-dead-with-phone-in-hand and lots of fake blood. It is a shocking, yet accurate statement that would inform teen drivers of the potential consequences.

Trial Runs

There are also trial runs — usually hosted by a state’s DMV along with several advocates against distracted driving — they allow drivers to experience firsthand what could happen should they attempt to text while driving. Set in an enclosed space, with only traffic cones as obstacles, there are only a few who manage to get through the course without hitting any of the cones while texting/driving. There are drivers who believe they are perfectly capable of handling both tasks, but running through a trial distracted driving course more or less proves them otherwise.

Ads

Various organizations would release ads that are either funny or serious in order to make their point. Some organizations do their advertisements a step above by involving the people themselves — they create contests asking drivers if they have what it takes to get the message across, in video form. Which is a good thing — it awakens an enthusiasm and awareness in teen drivers — which makes them think about safety when driving.

Distracted Driving Courses

The addition of cell phones, texting and driving, in-vehicle video entertainment, and navigation systems lengthens the long list of driver distractions. Research reveals that many new drivers do not recognize the risk of these activities when driving. To make teen drivers more aware of the risks there are courses like Dangers of Distracted Driving. The course creates a clear understanding of the distractions while driving and how they can cause crashes and cost lives.

New York cellphone law

New York Anti-Text Message Laws

In the fall of 2001 former New York Governor, George Pataki, signed a bill forbidding drivers from talking on their cell phones while driving. New York was the first state to enact such a law. The only exception to this law was that drivers could use hands free microphones (or a Bluetooth nowadays). Beginning on December 1, 2001 any driver in the state of New York caught talking on his or her cell phone while driving would be issued a ticket for $100.

As the first state to enact such a law New York received a lot of attention. Eventually, several other states followed in New York’s footsteps and passed similar laws of their own. However, in the years following the passage of New York’s cell phone law a new communication trend began. Text messages and the use of other hand held communication devices were becoming increasingly popular. Unfortunately, New York’s Law did not prohibit texting and driving. It only banned talking and driving.

The first momentous push for a Text Messaging Ban began in June of 2007. In Upstate New York five teenage girls were in an SUV headed down the highway. When the driver suddenly veered into oncoming traffic and collided with a big rig. While investigating the crash, it was discovered that the driver had sent and received text messages in the moments before the crash. All five girls died in the crash, only a few days after they graduated high school.

Many counties feared similar crashes would take place without a law banning texting while driving. Since, it was not going to be enforced on a state level many counties took matters into their own hands. In 2008, Westchester and Nassau counties were among the first to pass laws. Westchester County started an education campaign in local high schools to inform new drivers of the law. County officials felt the law would benefit younger drivers. The younger, more inexperienced drivers were part of the text message generation and they felt a ban on text messaging while driving help new drivers pay attention.

On August 27, 2009 Governor David Paterson signed a bill that would finally ban drivers from text messaging while driving on a statewide level. In addition to text messaging the law also bans the use of any portable electronic devices while driving. The law was put into effect on November 1, 2009 and breaking the law results in a fine of up to $150.

However, the law is considered a secondary offense. Meaning, if a cop sees a driver text messaging while stuck in traffic on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway the cop cannot pull the driver over and issue him or her a ticket. If however, the cop witness the driver speeding on the BQE and text messaging the driver can be pulled over and issued a ticket for both offenses.

On February 24, 2010 Governor Paterson proposed a change to the new law. He recommends the law be changed from a secondary law to primary law. The change would mean that the police officer who sees a driver text messaging while stuck in traffic can pull the driver without needing to find other reason. If the ban becomes a primary law, New York would not be the first state to raise the ban on text messaging from a secondary to primary law. Washington State Senate has already approved the switch from secondary to primary.

Parents are the Key

Parents are the Key to Teen Driving Safety

Imagine your 16-year old, late after his first solo drive — the phone rings and it’s your child, asking you to pick him up. He lets you know that he had an accident. You feel relief that everyone is safe, you bring both the vehicle and your child home. As you begin to understand what happened, you think how could I have prepared my child for this situation.

Having a conversation about how to handle a vehicle emergency is the right start. For many new drivers, more behind the wheel experience in a variety of driving scenarios including adverse weather conditions or driving on the highway can greatly improve their driving skills. In addition making sure that the car is properly maintained should also be a priority.

For many new drivers, parents are the key to teen driving safety.

The first few years are the most dangerous for the new driver. Statistics don’t lie — for nearly a decade, (1995 – 2004) more than 30% of all crashes involved teen drivers. Leading to the creation of the Graduated Driver’s License law, making parents more important in the lives of their teen drivers. These laws allow for a new driver to prove their maturity and trustworthiness.

Depending on what state you live in, your teen driver might need more in-car experience. As mentioned above, various states have a form of the GDL law, requiring up to 50 hours of supervised driving, including 10 hours of night-time driving. To help track and log your teens driving hours you can use a Teen Driving Experience Log Book to track the maneuvers practiced, the weather conditions or even the route.

There is bond that helps children understand a lesson better, if taught by his parents. Please keep this in mind as your child prepares for the responsibility of driving. Remember, parents are the first teachers for most experiences in their teens life.

For additional information on Graduated Drivers License Laws read:

Four Ways Teens Benefit from Following Graduated Drivers License Laws