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Study Suggests Younger Drivers Are at Risk with Teen Passengers

For teen drivers, summer is the best time of the year to have fun and hang out with friends. Between movie dates and trips to the mall, younger drivers arguably log more miles during summer break compared to when they are in school. Unfortunately, summer is also the deadliest time of the year. The American Automobile Association’s (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety views the summer months as “the 100 deadliest days for drivers.”

Distracted driving has long been a concern for teen drivers, especially with the propensity for teens to send and read text messages while behind the wheel. However, there are growing concerns about their driving habits when other teens are in the car, as opposed to adults. AAA Safety Foundation recently released a study suggesting that teen drivers are much more likely to suffer a fatal accident when other teens are in the car, compared to when they drive alone or are accompanied by an adult.

Researchers examined government data on teen crashes between 2007 and 2010. They found that the risk of death per mile driven for drivers aged 16 and 17 increased 44 percent when carrying one passenger younger than 21. This risk doubled when carrying two passengers younger than 21, and quadrupled when they had three or more passengers that age.

When the same drivers had an adult with them, the risk of death decreased 62 percent.

Despite the ominous statistics, the number of teens killed in auto accidents fell each year between 2000 and 2010. While the study did not measure these elements, graduated licensing laws, new safety features, and anti-drunk driving campaigns have all contributed to the decrease in deaths. Nevertheless, 40 percent of the teens killed during that time had at least one passenger under 21, and no adult passengers over 35.

It is important that parents impress upon their teens the importance of driver safety, as it is possible for adults to be held liable for negligent acts committed by their children. If you have questions about your legal rights and options after your teen driver has been involved in an accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney.