Teenagers have a reputation for engaging in reckless and potentially dangerous behaviors. Of course, this also extends to teen drivers. They often fall prey to driver distractions with greater ease than their adult counterparts, creating a major safety risk for them, their passengers and anyone else on the road.
One type of distraction comes in the form of passengers in the vehicle. But why does this increase a driver’s risk, and what sort of risk does it pose?
Increases in fatal crashes
AAA discusses the dangers that passengers can pose to teen drivers. They state that a teen driver’s risk of involvement in a fatal crash raises by 51 percent when a teen passenger is in the car with them. Even drivers over 35 years of age have an 8 percent higher chance of fatally crashing with a teen passenger in the car.
This rise in fatalities does not just apply to those within the car, either. The same study shows that teen drivers with teen passengers also increase the rate of fatalities in other cars by 56 percent. These fatalities rise by 45 percent for teenage drivers, and 17 percent for any pedestrian or cyclist in the same area at the time of the crash.
Why does it happen?
The main speculation behind this rise in fatalities primarily revolves around distracted driving. Advocates for driving safety suggest limiting the number of passengers that teen drivers can have in the car at any given time, along with suggesting more supervision for teen drivers as they get used to driving and learn how to minimize their reactions to distractions.