A Parent’s Guide to the JOL laws
As the parent, you are in the best position to help ensure that your son or daughter drives safely and obeys the Passenger Restriction and the Time Restriction. Don’t just rely on the Police to do it. Here are some tips to help enforce the Restrictions and to encourage safe driving.
- Speed kills. The daily newspapers and the evening news are filled with stories about young drivers who were speeding when a serious accident occurred. Review the accident statistics with your child. Few of the young drivers in the crashes ever thought it could happen to them. Make your Junior Operator understand, in the strongest terms possible, that speeding and other forms of reckless driving can and often do result in serious, even deadly, consequences.
- Alcohol and drugs. Most parents think their kids don’t drink or use drugs. However, we repeatedly read news stories of accidents involving teen drivers in which alcohol was a factor. Where did they get it? Often it’s from their own home or from a friend’s home. Make sure the Junior Operator does not have access to alcohol in your home. And, know whom they hang around with because drug and alcohol use often results from peer pressure.
- Seat belts save lives and they save people from more serious injury. Peer pressure often discourages new young drivers from wearing a seat belt because it’s not considered “cool.” Have you ever seen people who have suffered serious brain injuries after being thrown from a vehicle? Tell your Junior Operator (repeatedly if necessary) to always wear the seat belt! Make sure you set a good example.
- Draw up a contract between you and your child. You agree to provide car privileges as long as your child remains a safe driver and complies with all laws and family rules. Include rewards for safe driving over a period of time and penalties or loss of privileges for violations of the motor vehicle laws or of “family rules.”
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More on Alcohol & Drugs
Have a serious talk with your newly licensed teen driver about the very high crash rate for new drivers of the same age group. Consider these other points:
Tell your child that his or her priority has to be to develop a responsible attitude as a driver and to develop the maturity and skills that can only come with experience behind the wheel.
Disclose your awareness that some teens will use alcohol and/or drugs, even though it is illegal, and then drive a motor vehicle.
State that alcohol and/or drug use by teen drivers only increases the already high risk of a crash. Cite the fatality rates in this brochure for 16-18 year olds who were drunk.
Explain what you expect from your child as a licensed teen driver. Also explain what your likely reaction will be if you discover he or she operated a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Stress that using alcohol or drugs and operating a motor vehicle is not only irresponsible, it presents an extreme danger for both the driver and everyone else on that road. Also stress that being a passenger in a vehicle with others who have used alcohol or drugs is not any safer or smarter.
Whatever you say as a parent or guardian, be clear, be concise and be ready to back it up. As a parent or guardian, you can make a big difference if you try. Try!
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If you need more information in an easy to read Q & A format, entitled: “FAQs About Learner’s Permits & Junior Operator Licenses,” please visit our RMV website at www.mass.gov/rmv, and click on Junior Operators. You may also obtain a copy by calling the RMV at 617-351-4500. If any of the laws governing JOL are amended, changes will be posted on the RMV website.