Most people would agree that teenage drivers are among the most accident-prone on the roads. There is clear evidence to back it up, too. The crash rate per mile of drivers aged between 16 and 19 was almost three times as high as for drivers aged 20 or over.
Carrying passengers of a similar age can vastly increase that risk. One report showed that a teen driving with a sole passenger who was under 21 raised crash risk by 44%. Carrying two under-21s and no one older doubled the crash risk, and carrying three under-21s with no one older quadrupled it. By contrast, taking someone over 35 as a passenger saw the teenage driver’s crash risk drop by 62%.
What makes teenage passengers such a problem?
Peer pressure is likely to play a big role, especially among males. Their friends may encourage them to go faster or drive in reckless ways. The study found that teenage drivers were more likely to speed, which can lead to loss of control of the vehicle. Remember, many teenagers have grown up playing video games where it is normal to drive at high speed. Yet, they do not have the experience to do it safely in real life.
Distraction can also increase with passengers. Aside from chatting and joking, the drivers and their young passengers may constantly be fiddling with the music, using their phones to record events or coordinate with other friends. Young people use their phones a lot more than older ones, and it is likely they continue to do so more when driving.
If a teenage driver injures you, you may need to learn more about your options to hold them responsible.