From: Children's Safety Network
More than 40% of fatal crashes of 16- and 17-year-old drivers occur when transporting teenagers. Characteristics of this predominant crash type and prevention possibilities are described, based on data from fatal crashes in the United States during 2005–2010.
Fifty-seven percent of 16- and 17-year old drivers in fatal crashes had at least one passenger. Most commonly, all passengers were ages 13–19 (42% of all drivers and 73% of those with passengers). Of fatal crash involved drivers with teenage passengers and no passengers of other ages, 56% had one passenger, 24% had two, and 20% had three or more. Most frequently, passengers were the same sex and within one year of the driver. Risk factors involving speeding, alcohol use, late-night driving, lack of a valid license, seat belt non-use, and crash responsibility were more prevalent with teenage passengers than when driving alone, and the prevalence of these factors increased with the number of teenage passengers. Many risk factors were most prevalent with passengers ages 20–29, although few crashes had this occupant configuration. Risk factors were least prevalent with a passenger 30 or older.
Fatal crashes of 16- and 17-year-old drivers with teen passengers are a common crash scenario, despite passenger restrictions in 42 states and the District of Columbia during some or all of the study period. The proportion of these fatal crashes decreased slightly from 46% in 1995 (pre-GDL) to 43% in 2010 and showed no signs of decreasing during the six-year study period (range 41% to 43%).
Existing passenger restrictions are relatively weak and could be strengthened. Fatal crashes involving teen passengers, especially multiple passengers, are more likely to involve alcohol, late-night driving, driver error, and invalid licensure, so stepped-up enforcement of existing laws involving these behaviors might reduce the prevalence of such crashes.
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