The risk of a teen driver dying in a crash surges when young passengers are present in the vehicle, according to a study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The report found that a 16- or 17-year-old driver's risk of death:
- Increases by 44 percent when one passenger younger than 21 (and no older passengers) is present.
- Doubles when two passengers younger than 21 (and no older passengers) are present.
- Quadruples when three passengers younger than 21 (and no older passengers) are present.
"We know that carrying young passengers is a huge risk, but it's also a preventable one," Peter Kissinger, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety president and CEO, said in a press statement. "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."
By contrast, teen drivers who carry passengers age 35 and older see their fatality risk drop by 62 percent.
The AAA Foundation suggests the following tips to keep teen drivers safe:
- Know the graduated driver licensing system for your state.
- Sign a parent-teen driving agreement that stipulates teens will not ride as passengers of teen drivers without a parent's advance permission.
- Provide transportation alternatives for teens who honor that pledge.
- Talk with other parents so they know the rules for your teen and will help enforce them.
- Spend time as a passenger when your teen is at the wheel.