Multiple Teen Passengers-A Documented and Preventable Crash Risk

A pair of studies by Children’s Hospital’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention(CIRP) identified factors that led teens to be more likely to drive with multiple teen passengers and examined the likelihood of driver distraction and risk-taking behaviors for teen drivers with and without teen passengers. The studies were published in the Journal of Adolescent Heath. While it has been known that teen passengers increase teen driver crash risk, it was not known what factors were involved in increasing that risk.

Teens who are most likely to drive with multiple teen passengers shared these characteristics: perceived their parents as not setting rules for monitoring their whereabouts, considered themselves  “thrillseekers,” and possessed a weak perception of the risks associated with driving generally. Fortunately these teens were in the minority.

These results underscore the important role that parents can play in keeping their children safe. In looking at teen crashes the study found that both male and female teen drivers with passengers were more likely to have been distracted just before a crash than when they were driving alone. Of those who said they were distracted just before the crash 71 percent of males and 47 percent of females said they were distracted by the actions of their passengers. Males  with passengers were found to be twice as likely to drive aggressively and six times more likely to perform an illegal maneuver before a crash than males driving alone. Females rarely drove aggressively regardless of whether they had passengers in the car. The researchers concluded that Graduated Driver Licensing Laws and parental involvement were critical to protecting teen drivers from a dangerous crash risk-driving with their friends.

For more information on these studies and other research and resources for parents and teens visit

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