The AP has published that a teenage driver’s risk of dying in an accident increases dramatically when there are other teens in the car. This was part of the findings of a new AAA study in Washington based on an examination of government data on teen crashes from 2007 and 2010. The study was released in conjunction with a rally in Washington to kick off Global Youth Safety Month.
Compared to driving with no passengers, a 16-or-17-year-old driver’s risk of death per mile driven increases by 44 percent when carrying one passenger younger than 21 (and no older passengers). The risk doubles when carrying two passengers younger than 21, and quadruples when carrying three or more passengers that age. Conversely, the risk of a teen driver dying in an accident when there is a passenger aged 35 or older looking on decreases by 62 percent.
“Like cell phones, the presence of other teens can be extremely distracting to young drivers,” said Jackie Gillan, the present of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
While researchers have long been aware that the presence of other teens is distracting to novice drivers, previous studies on the issue are more than a decade old and do not reflect changes in the state driving laws that began in the mid 90s. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of 16-and-17-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes each year fell by more than half. Graduated licensing laws—as well as greater seat beat usage, better safety equipment in cars, and anti-drunk-driving campaigns—have been credited for the decrease. However, 40 percent of the 2,191 younger teen drivers killed during this time span had at least one passenger under 21 in the vehicle. And preliminary data for the first six months of 2011 shows a small uptick in teen driving deaths. “Just because states have graduated licensing laws doesn’t mean everyone is obeying them, “ said Jonathan Adkins, a spokesperson for the Governors Highway Safety Association.
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