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Deadly Combination: Teen Driver Plus Teen Passenger Increase Crash Chance 51 Percent, AAA Says

Teenagers are at an increased threat to be involved in a crash according to AAA.
Teenagers are at an increased threat to be involved in a crash according to AAA. Photo Credit: AAA

Teenage passengers may be the biggest threat to teenage drivers, according to a recently released report from AAA.

Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety 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 comparison, when passengers over the age of 35 ride with a teen driver, overall fatality rates in crashes decreased 8 percent.

According to AAA, in 2016, teen drivers were involved in more than a million police-reported crashes resulting in more than 3,200 deaths.

Researchers found that when teenagers were carrying teen passengers, fatality rates rose 56 percent for the occupants of other vehicles; 45 percent for the teenage driver; and 17 percent for pedestrians and cyclists.

AAA said that the main cause of the rise in fatality rates involving teenage drivers is due to a lack of supervision and training. In response, AAA has offered tips to help parents and teen drivers:

  • 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 such as highways, nighttime, driving in the rain, and on and around challenging roadways;
  • 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 roads.

“The analysis shows that in crashes where teen drivers are behind the wheel with a teen passenger, a larger portion of those killed are other road users,” David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety stated. “This study also found the fatality rate of a teen-driver related crash increased when factors like speeding or driving at night, were introduced.”

Jennifer Ryan, director of AAA State Relations added, “teens simply lack experience behind the wheel, which increases the odds of a deadly outcome, not just for the teen driver, but for their passengers and others on the roadways. Parents of teens must take this rite of passage seriously by setting and consistently enforcing rules to limit teenage passengers in the vehicle.

“Strong coaching and diversity in practice driving sessions are key when teens have their learners permit.  And, once teens have their license, consistent parental involvement is essential,”

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