What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of distracted driving? Most likely it’s a cell phone. While cell phones are the leading cause of distracted driving there’s another type of distraction that everyone should be aware of, especially for teen drivers.
AAA found that when a 16 or 17 year old driver has other young passengers in their vehicle, their risk of being killed in a crash increases. Specifically they state that when a 16 or 17 year old driver has one passenger in their car under the age of 21 their risk of being killed increases by 44%.
Even more scary than that is what they found when you add two passengers under the age of 21 to a vehicle driven by a 16 or 17 year old. They found that when this occurs the likelihood of that driver being killed in a crash doubles.
Can it get more scary than that? Unfortunately it can. AAA states that when there are three passengers under the age of 21 in a vehicle driven by a 16 or 17 year old, that driver’s risk of being killed in a crash QUADRUPLES!
Here’s the really interesting part; AAA also states that when you add a passenger over the age of 35 to the vehicle driven by a 16 or 17 year old their risk of being killed in a crash decreases by 62%!
Here’s a link to the AAA site if you would like to check it out for yourself. https://exchange.aaa.com/teen-driver-distraction/#.XlpNOW5Fw2x
So what does this information mean to parents with teen drivers? First, limit the number of teen passengers in your child’s vehicle. Some states have GDL laws that require this but even aside from these laws parents should be proactive and limit the number of passengers.
Secondly, parents should ride with their new drivers often. Not only to observe and coach but research shows when a teenager first gets their license they are very likely to crash. Why not reduce the risk by spending time riding with your teen?
Bottom line, it’s important for all parents, and even teen drivers, to know and understand the risk of having teen passengers in a car operated by a new driver.