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Research Reveals Teen Drivers With Teen Passengers A Dangerous Mix

If you have a teenage driver, you might think seriously about limiting the number of teen passengers they’re allowed to drive with, or prohibiting them altogether. A recent study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that teen drivers are much more likely to engage in risky driving when other teens are in the car.

Because auto accidents are the leading cause of death for teens, the study was released during Teen Driver Safety Week (Oct. 14-20). The research reveals that the risk of an accident for 16- and 17-year-old drivers directly corresponds to the number of teens in the car.

In that age group, the incidence of speeding rose 14%, from 30% with no passengers to 44% with two or more passengers.

Late-night driving between the hours of 11 p.m. to 5 a.m, during which the rate of accidents rises significantly for teens, increased from 17% with no passengers, to 22% with two passengers, and 28% with three or more passengers.

The incidence of driving and drinking rose as much as 5% when the teen behind the wheel had two or more teenage passengers.

Because teen driving poses such a risk, experts are pushing for states to adopt a graduated permitting system that places restrictions on young drivers. The program would encompass three stages: a learner’s permit, intermediate/probationary license and full/unrestricted license. According to the program, learner’s permits allow drivers to get behind the wheel only with a licensed adult driver without any additional passengers.  Night driving is also severely restricted. The secondary licensing stage stipulates that only person under age 20 is allowed in the car while the teen is driving, unless the person is a sibling or child of the driver.  It also restricts nighttime driving. The third licensing phase is unrestricted as long as the teen driver remains free of moving violations.

Some states have already adopted this three-phase teen licensing program, and if safety experts have their way, many more will soon follow.