AAA Traffic Safety Study: Risk of Fatal Traffic Accidents Rise when Teen Drivers Carry Younger Passengers

According to a study just recently released, every parent’s nightmare would appear to be confirmed: young teenage drivers are more likely to get into a fatal car crash when driving with other young passengers. The study only serves to bolster previous data that pointed to an elevated roadway accident risk for young drivers. As Maryland personal injury attorneys, we would tend to agree with findings; more importantly, parents should take note and coach their young drivers accordingly.

Based on news articles, this latest study coming out of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety identifies a definite link between fatal automobile collisions and the age of a driver as well as whether or not the vehicle is carrying one or more other young passengers.

Titled “Teen Driver Risk in Relation to Age and Number of Passengers,” the AAA’s report used traffic accident statistics from 2007 to 2010. In general, researchers determined that odds for a fatal accident involving a vehicle driven by a 16 to 17-year-old motorist increased with the addition of each young occupant. As study authors reminded, the report reconfirmed what safety advocates have apparently known for quite some time.

As automobile, truck and motorcycle accident lawyers, we can see how adding multiple teenage passengers to a vehicle already being operated by a teenage driver can make for a particularly dangerous scenario. Based on news article, the objective of AAA researchers was to zero in and shine a light on the importance of passenger restrictions, something that many states like Maryland are already doing with the institution of graduated licensing laws.

Pulling from statistics available in the national Fatality Analysis Reporting System (better known as FARS), as well as the National Household Travel Survey, researchers determined that on a per-mile basis the risk of death for a 16 to 17-year-old driver rose almost 45 percent with only one additional passenger under 21 years old (versus no occupants other than the driver himself).

That risk doubled when a teen-driven vehicle had two other passengers under 21. Add another under-21-year-old and the risk, according to researchers, jumped to four-times that of just the teen driving by himself.

The study qualified these finding by adding that these risk were all without a 21-year-old or older adult riding in the car as well. To this end, statistics showed that if a teen driver carried at least one passenger aged 35 or older, the risk of a fatal crash was actually reduced by more than 60 percent, while risk of any police-reported roadway incident was similarly decreased — down by about 45 percent, when compared to a teen driving without adult supervision.

This latest study adds ammunition to safety advocates arguments that teenage drivers are at higher risk for serious and fatal accidents than the rest of the driving public. It comes as a welcome addition to a previous, landmark study conducted back in 2000. Proponents of graduated driver’s license programs and teen driver safety no doubt will be pleased at the findings, which reinforce the now well-founded belief that adult passengers have a positive influence on the driving behaviors of younger, teenage motorists.

If anything, this study serves to remind people that auto and truck accidents involving teenagers can be reduced, hopefully even prevented in some cases, through the active involvement of parents and other adults. According to the news article, AAA recommends that driving-age teens and their families familiarize themselves their state’s graduated driver licensing systems and even sign a parent-teenager pact that outlines the terms of a teenagers driving privileges vis-à-vis his or her family.

Teenage Driver Study Reconfirms Link Between Young Passengers and Chances of a Fatal Crash,, May 8, 2012

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