Teen drivers have developed a reputation for unsafe driving behaviors like using their phones, speeding and driving under the influence. Of course, every teen is different and some are very safe and conscientious drivers — maybe safer than their parents.
However, one of the potentially deadliest things a teen driver can do is have another teen in the car with them. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, when the only passengers in a car with a teen driver are other teens, the fatality rate increases by over 50%. That falls by 8% when there’s an adult of at least 35 riding in the car with the teen driver.
It’s not just the teen driver and their passengers who are at risk. In crashes where only teens were in a vehicle, the fatality rate for people in other vehicles rose 56% and the rate for pedestrians and cyclists increased 17%.
The head of AAA State Relations says, “Parents of teens must take this rite of passage seriously by setting and consistently enforcing rules to limit teenage passengers in the vehicle.” AAA provides a number of recommendations for parents of teens who are learning to drive in order to help ensure their safety and that of others.
These include many hours of supervised driving — particularly in high-risk situations like night driving, driving in bad weather and driving on highways or challenging roads. Another AAA recommendation is not to let more than one passenger under 20 who’s not a family member ride with a teen driver during their first six months behind the wheel.
Indiana law also recognizes the potential danger of not having an adult in the car when young drivers are still acquiring experience. Those with probationary driver’s licenses can’t have passengers in the car for six months unless a licensed driver of 25 or older, an instructor or a spouse of 21 or older is in the front seat. There are exceptions, however, if the young driver is transporting their sibling or child.
By minimizing distractions like other young passengers, teen drivers have a better chance of seeing and reacting to potentially dangerous situations. However, if your teen is injured because of a negligent or reckless driver, it’s essential to learn about your options for seeking the compensation your child needs and deserves to heal and move forward.