Study: Fatality risk for teen drivers higher with multiple young passengers
Sun-Times Media May 9, 2012 12:34PM
Updated: June 11, 2012 10:15AM
A study from the AAA Auto Club shows a strong association between the number and age of passengers present in a vehicle and the risk of a teen driver dying in a crash.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released the report, “Teen Driver Risk in Relation to Age and Number of Passengers,” on Tuesday. It found that the likelihood of a 16- or 17-year-old driver being killed in a crash, per mile driven, increases with each additional young passenger in the vehicle.
Compared to driving with no passengers, a 16- or 17-year-old driver’s fatality risk:
Increases 44 percent when carrying one passenger younger than 21 (and no older passengers).
Doubles when carrying two passengers younger than 21 (and no older passengers).
Quadruples when carrying three or more passengers younger than 21 (and no older passengers).
Conversely, carrying at least one passenger 35 or older cuts a teen driver’s risk of death by 62 percent, and risk of involvement in any police-reported crash by 46 percent, the study concluded.
Crash data analyzed by the AAA Foundation found that in Illinois between 2006 and 2010, there were 273 fatal crashes that involved a 16- or 17 year-old driver. Of those crashes, 141 (52 percent) happened when at least one other passenger under 21 was in the car — a figure that dropped to 21 (8 percent) when there was at least one passenger over 21 in the car.
“We know that carrying young passengers is a huge risk, but it’s also a preventable one,” AAA spokeswoman Beth Mosher said. “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.”
“The connection between carrying young passengers and increased fatal crash risk is clear, and placing appropriate limits is a key part of graduated driver licensing,” Mosher said. “By limiting the number of passengers that 16- and 17-year-old drivers can have in the car, these policies help ensure that teens stay focused on the road and gain the experience they need to become safe drivers.”