Pennsylvania toughened its rules on teen drivers in December in an attempt to reduce the number of motor vehicle accidents involving young motorists. Research studies have indicated that the presence of other young people in a car driven by a teen motorist may be one of the most common reasons that such accidents occur.
The leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 16 and 19 is fatal car accidents. There are a number of factors besides the presence of friends as passengers that contribute to these accidents.
Included are the higher propensity of teen motorists to abuse drugs or alcohol while driving, and the false bravado which often results in teens driving erratically, speeding, running run lights or tailgating behind other vehicles. However, many of these factors are further heightened when a teen driver is showing off for his high school friends in the car.
The risk of having a fatal car accident for a 17-year-old driver increases by 48 percent with only one young passenger in the vehicle, doubling with two passengers and tripling with three or more passengers, according to a study conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
The presence of friends in the car is distracting to teen drivers, and those who pick up friends as passengers are more likely to be thrill seekers, researchers found. Pennsylvania’s new tough laws only let a teen motorist with a learner’s permit carry one passenger under the age of 18 during the first six months they drive. Siblings are excluded from that limitation.
The frightening statistics about the impact of passengers in a teen motorist’s car may motivate some parents to go further than the law in restricting how many passengers their son or daughter is allowed to transport.
Source: Philly.com, “Reducing teen traffic accidents,” Feb. 13, 2012