Passengers Found to be a Distraction for Teen Drivers
A pair of studies published in the Journal of Adolescent Research found that multiple passengers are a distraction for teen drivers. These studies from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm teen driver research partnership looked at what factors influence teen drivers to drive with multiple friends, and, once multiple friends are present in the car, what distractions happen in the moments before a crash.
“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,” said study author Allison Curry, PhD, director of epidemiology at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention, in Family Car Guide.
The first study of almost 200 teens found that teens who are most likely to drive with multiple passengers share similar characteristics: they identify themselves as “thrill-seekers,” perceive their parents as not setting rules or monitoring their whereabouts, and have a weak perception of the risks associated with driving in general. The second study, involving over 600 teens, found that both male and female teen drivers with peer passengers were more likely to be distracted just before a crash compared to teens that crashed while driving solo. These studies also found that males were more likely to engage in aggressive driving when driving with passengers, versus driving alone. Females rarely drove aggressively, whether with passengers or not.
Parents need to be aware that learning to drive involves more than passing the test. It also involves safety awareness and maintenance training, it's not enough to give them the driving time, or lend them the car every now and then.Teen drivers may have their license, but they don't necessarily have the road experience that helps them to be safe drivers and to make good decisions on the road.
To better protect their teen drivers, parents should be proactive as their teen learns to drive and acquire their license. Spend more time monitoring their driving and enforcing driving rules such as curfew. Driving is much more than learning how to operate a vehicle, and navigate the roads, but to do so safely.