Distractions are one of the largest factors in teen driver crashes, which makes carrying teen passengers a seriously dangerous practice for newly-licensed teens. Teen passengers may be loud and rowdy, or encourage the driver to engage in risky behaviors such as speeding, not using a seat belt or using electronic devices. Additionally, teen passengers significantly increase a teen’s already high crash risk. One teen passenger can increase your teen driver’s crash risk by as much as 48 percent, and three passengers can increase it by as much as 307 percent.
For these reasons, the National Safety Council recommends parents and lawmakers prohibit teen drivers from carrying more than one passenger under 21, including siblings.
Most states’ Graduated Driver Licensing programs have passenger restrictions, but parents can go beyond the laws to ensure their new driver remains safe.
As parents, you are encouraged to:
- Set passenger limitations even if the state’s GDL law does not
- After establishing rules, sign a parent-teen driving agreement that holds a teen accountable for passenger limitations and other restrictions that minimize high-risk situations.
- Talk with other parents so everyone knows the agreed-upon rules and enforces them
- Provide transportation alternatives so teens do not need to carpool with friends
Minimizing crash risks as your teen learns to drive is critical. Parents, be vigilant about all your teen’s habits behind the wheel, but particularly when those practices potentially put your teen’s – and his or her peers’ – life in danger.