Reality Alert: On their day off, two teenage camp counselors decided to drive into town to get supplies for camp and do laundry. On the way, the driver fell asleep and the car swerved over the center line, crashing into oncoming traffic. One camp counselor died and the other was severely injured.
Many organizations who employ teenagers wonder if they should allow them to drive for work purposes. On one hand, there are times when teen employees may need to drive, like the situation described above. On the other hand, teen drivers are more likely to get into an accident than older adult drivers. In addition, teen employees are subject to regulations from the Department of Labor.
Teen Driver Policies
The Department of Labor has rules about what youth, who are under the age of 18, can do as part of their jobs. The DOL states that no employee under age 17 can drive for their job. Therefore, any employees who are 16 may not drive for work.
Drivers who are 17 are subject to many rules. A few important ones are:
- They may not transport property, goods, or passengers.
- They may not drive beyond a 30-mile radius from the place of employment.
- They must only drive during daylight hours.
Because of these rules, we recommend that drivers be at least 18 years old and preferably 21 years old. This way, there’s no need to track or put restrictions on drivers because of their age. Also, the older the driver, the more experienced they are. They’re better prepared to handle situations because they’ve been driving longer. This additional experience is especially important if employees are transporting passengers.
All drivers, regardless of age, can easily get distracted by a phone, a passenger, or anything else in the vehicle. Cell phones are a big issue for drivers on the road today. It’s so easy to look down at a phone for just a second, but this can be deadly. Establishing and enforcing policies prohibiting cell phone use and other distractions while driving can go a long way toward keeping employees safe.
Also, finding ways to minimize the amount of driving needed can also help keep employees off the roads unnecessarily. Almost anything can be ordered online and delivered to the organization, reducing the need for employees to run out and pick up supplies. By keeping employees’ driving to a minimum, organizations can reduce the risk of a serious accident like the tragedy reported here.