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New Studies Examine Why Teen Passengers Increase Accidents Involving Teen Drivers

July 24, 2013

While many parents are well aware of the risk of distracted teen driving, they may assume the primary source of this risk involves the use of cell phones to engage in telephone conversations, to text message friends and to review social media websites like Facebook.  However, there is another form of driving distraction that can be almost as dangerous for teen drivers – teen passengers.

Two separate studies recently conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm published in the Journal of Adolescent Health examine the nature of the risk when teen drivers transport teen passengers.  The studies explored the factors that cause teen accident rates to increase when transporting other teens as well as the impact of teen passengers on driver behavior immediately proceeding a crash.

While traffic safety experts have long been aware of the increased risk of an accident when teen drivers carry passengers, these studies were designed to deepen our understanding of the causal connection between teen accident rates and the transportation of passengers according to the study authors.  The goal is to use the data to more carefully construct restrictions in Graduated Driver’s License programs for newly licensed teen drivers.

The first study focused on the types of characteristics generally demonstrated by teens that routinely transport other teens.  The researchers found that these teens tended to claim that they are “risk takers,” and they informed the researchers their parents do not tend to monitor their behavior or keep tabs on their comings and goings.  These drivers also tended to have a poor sense of the potential hazards associated with operating a motor vehicle.  While these attitudes are concerning, these teens represented a small minority of those who participated in the study.

The second study included almost 700 teen drivers and examined the impact of passengers on driver behavior and the probability of driver inattention immediately preceeding a collision.  Drivers of both genders were more likely to be involved in a collision when teen passengers were in the vehicle.  Approximately 7 in 10 of the teen boys who were involved in a distracted driving collision indicated the source of the distraction was a passenger while about half of teen girls indicated their distraction-related collision involved a passenger.

The researchers also found that passengers tend to increase the likelihood of aggressive driving behavior by teen boys but not teen girls.  Teenage boys were six times more likely to violate a traffic law and twice as likely to engage in aggressive driving immediately before being involved in a collision when a passenger was in the vehicle.  Interestingly, teen girls in the study exhibited very little tendency to engage in aggressive driving behavior with or without passengers in the vehicle.

If you or someone close to you have been involved in a collision involving a teen driver, you may have a right to pursue financial compensation.  When teens violate graduated driver’s license restrictions that limit the number of passengers in a vehicle, this may serve as a basis for imposing fault on the teen driver if a passenger distraction caused the accident. 

Our experienced Georgia accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you.

Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333).  You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

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All information provided by our blogs is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult a Montlick attorney for details about your unique situation.

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