Teen Driver's Friends Can Be Dangerous Distraction,
SUNDAY, Jan. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Teens who think of
themselves as thrill-seekers and who believe their parents don't
set rules are among the most likely to drive with other teens in
the car, which in many states violates graduated licensing laws, a
new study finds.
And a second study of teens involved in serious accidents found
that for those carrying other teen passengers, distraction and
risky driving behavior often played a role.
It's long been known that having teen passengers increases a
teen driver's crash risk, according to Children's Hospital of
Philadelphia researchers, but it hasn't been well understood how
this these passengers actually increase crash risk.
"These studies help us understand the factors that may predispose teens to drive with multiple friends and how those passengers may contribute to crashes by distracting the driver and promoting risky driving behaviors, such as speeding, tailgating or weaving," study author Allison Curry, director of epidemiology at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention, said in a hospital news release.
"Knowing this, we can develop programs that work in tandem with current graduated driver licensing laws that limit the number of passengers for teens during their first year of driving," she added.
In the first study, Curry and colleagues surveyed 198 teen
drivers and found that those mostly likely to transport their
friends shared a number of characteristics. They considered
themselves thrill-seekers, said their parents didn't set rules or
monitor their whereabouts, and had a poor understanding about the
overall risk of driving.
"The good news is that that these teens make up the minority," study author and behavioral researcher Jessica Mirman said in the news release. "Teens in this study generally reported strong perceptions of the risks of driving, low frequencies of driving with multiple passengers and strong beliefs that their parents monitored their behavior and set rules."
The second study looked at a nationally representative sample of
677 teen drivers involved in serious crashes.
Both male and female teen drivers with peer passengers were more
likely to be distracted just before a crash as compared to teens
who crashed while driving alone, according to the study. Among
teens who said they were distracted by something inside the vehicle
before they crashed, 71 percent of males and 47 percent of females
said they were distracted by the actions of their passengers.
The survey also found that male drivers with passengers were
nearly six times more likely to perform an illegal driving maneuver
and more than twice as likely to drive aggressively just before a
crash compared to males driving alone.
Females rarely drove aggressively, regardless of whether they
had passengers in the car.
"Most teens take driving seriously and act responsibly behind the wheel. However, some may not realize how passengers can directly affect their driving," Mirman said. "Teen passengers can intentionally and unintentionally encourage unsafe driving. Because it can be difficult for new drivers to navigate the rules of the road and manage passengers, it's best to keep the number of passengers to a minimum for the first year."
The studies, conducted with State Farm, were published Jan. 24
Journal of Adolescent Health.
The Nemours Foundation offers parents a list of
rules for teen drivers.
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