A deadly combination: Teen drivers and teen passengers


New AAA research reveals combination increases risk of death in a crash by 51 percent

Submitted article



New teen drivers ages 16-17 years old are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash – and new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that the risk is increased if they bring teen passengers along for the ride. The research makes clear the strong need for teens to gain adequate supervised training in a variety of driving scenarios before getting behind the wheel on their own.

The new research found that when a teen driver has only teen passengers in their vehicle, the fatality rate for all people involved in a crash increased 51 percent. In contrast, when older passengers (35 or older) rode with teen drivers, overall fatality rates in crashes decreased eight percent.

In 2016, teen drivers were involved in more than 1 million police-reported crashes resulting in more than 3,200 deaths. Researchers pinpointed that when teens were carrying teen passengers, fatality rates jumped:

– 56 percent for occupants of other vehicles

– 45 percent for the teen driver

– 17 percent for pedestrians and cyclists

This study also found the fatality rate of a teen-driver related crash increased when factors like speeding or driving at night were introduced.

“Our analysis highlights the danger posed by new teen drivers to everyone on the road, particularly when a teen passenger is added to the mix,” says Theresa Podguski, director of Legislative Affairs, AAA East Central. “Given their inexperience behind the wheel and the added distraction associated with driving around with friends, parents need to take an active role in preparing their young driver for the road.”

Supervised driving – with parents in the passenger seat as the coach – is the first step to teaching teens how to become responsible and safe drivers. AAA offers a multitude of resources at TeenDriving.AAA.com to help coach teen drivers, in addition to these tips:

– Require teens to log at least 100 hours of supervised practice driving with a parent before driving solo.

– Begin by practicing driving in low-risk situations and gradually move to situations that are more complex: highways, nighttime, driving in the rain, and on and around challenging roadways (e.g., curves).

– Allow no more than one non-family passenger under the age of 20 to ride with the teen driver during the first six months of driving.

– Use slightly different routes each practice session.

– Practice adjusting speed based on three factors: visibility, on-road traffic and different road conditions.

Other AAA resources available for parents include the StartSmart Online Parent session to coach their teen through the learning-to-drive process and Teaching Your Teen to Drive, a one-hour live action DVD and illustrated in-car handbook that parents can use to support supervised driving lessons. These and other parent/teen resources are available on TeenDriving.AAA.com.

New AAA research reveals combination increases risk of death in a crash by 51 percent

Submitted article