Already a high-risk population, teen drivers face even greater risks when they have other young passengers in the car with them, according to a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released in conjunction with National Youth Traffic Safety Month.
The report, “Teen Driver Risk in Relation to Age and Number of Passengers,” shows that the likelihood of a 16- or 17-year-old driver dying in a crash when multiple other young passengers are in the vehicle increases with each additional passenger.
The statistics are sobering. For example, compared to the 16- or 17-year-old teen driver with no passengers, the driver’s fatality rate:
- Increases 44 percent – when carrying a single passenger under 21 and no other passengers.
- Doubles – with two or more passengers under age 21 and no other passengers are in the vehicle.
- Quadruples – when three or more passengers under 21 and no other passengers are in the vehicle.
AAAFTS - Teen drivers risk death with young passengers
AAAFTS - Teen drivers risk death with young passengersEnlarge Photo
Parents and other adults provide a protective influence
Accenting the importance of the protective influence of parents and other adults in the car with the teen driver, the study found that the teen driver’s fatality risk dropped by 62 percent when at least one adult aged 35 or older was in the car. In addition, the risk of involvement in any police-reported crash was cut by 46 percent.
The results showed that although the number of teen driver fatalities has substantially decreased over the past few years, carrying multiple young passengers is still a major risk factor for young drivers.
Teens in car - AAA Foundation for Traffic SafetyEnlarge Photo
“These findings should send a clear message to families that parents can make their teens safer immediately by refusing to allow them to get in the car with other young people, whether they’re behind the wheel or in the passenger seat,” said Peter Kissinger, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety president and CEO.
“Parents and teens together can reduce this risk today,” Kissinger added, offering families the following tips.
- Know the graduated driver licensing system (GDL) laws in your state. Keep in mind that even if the law doesn’t set a passenger limit, parents can and should.
- Sign a parent-teen driving agreement that stipulates that teens will not ride as passengers of other teen drivers without advance permission from the parent.
- Make it a point to spend time in the car when your teen is driving. Being there and providing guidance will help your teen become a safer driver.
- Communicate with parents of your teen’s friends so that they will know your teen’s driving rules and will help enforce them.
Also check out other resources for parents and teens at TeenDriving.AAA.com.
View the full report here in PDF format.