A study released this week suggests that novice teen drivers aged 15-17 are eight times more likely to be in a fatal crash if they have two or more teen passengers (aged 13-17) in the car with them compared to young adult drivers (18-24 years of age). The Texas A&M Transportation Institute released its study, which analyzed 10 years of national traffic data from 2002 to 2011, to determine this startling statistic. It is a stark reminder that one of the most dangerous distractions for teen drivers is passengers in the car.
Most states (44 states and DC) have graduated driver licensing laws that restrict the number of passengers that new teen drivers are allowed to have in the car. This new study also found that the likelihood of a novice driver with teen passengers being involved in a fatal crash increased over the past decade in comparison to the likelihood of young adult drivers further supporting the importance of passenger restrictions. As other research has shown the fatal crash rate of 15-17 year-old drivers is reduced by 21 percent when restricted from driving with any teenagers versus allowing two or more.1
This year, The Century Council introduced a new teen driver safety program, IKnowEverything, that encourages teens to pay attention 100% of the time while driving, and limiting distractions like teen passengers. The program recognizes that teens are overly confident and think they “know everything” about safe driving, especially when they’re with their peers. Developed to prepare teens to be safe behind the wheel, IKnowEverything is an integrated effort that highlights the issues of drunk driving and distracted driving, and reiterates to parents that they have the most influence on their teen’s driving behaviors.