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AAA Urges Parents to Prevent Teens From Driving With Teens

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Teens Driving with Teens is Deadly Mix

“Teens Driving Teens A Deadly Mix.” Photo courtesy of AAA.

AAA is urging parents to limit newly licensed teens from driving with young passengers, because a new study released just before the start of Teen Driver Safety Week shows that risky behaviors and accidents increase as the number of teen passengers increases.

Teen drivers are involved in more crashes per mile than drivers in any other age group, and 16-and 17-year-old drivers are involved in about seven times as many crashes per mile as drivers in their 40s, 50s, or 60s, the report said. Furthermore, it says that teen drivers are “overrepresented” in crashes that result in the death of other people, such as their passengers, pedestrians, or occupants of other vehicles.

In an AAA press release, AAA President & CEO Robert Darbeinet says:

Mixing young drivers with teen passengers can have dangerous consequences. AAA urges parents to set and consistently enforce family rules that limit newly licensed teens from driving with young passengers.

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teens, AAA notes, and risky behavior among 16- and 17-year-old drivers increases when teen passengers are present, the study shows. According to the study, such behaviors include:

  • Speeding, which increased from 30% with no teen passengers to 44% with two teen passengers, and to 48% with three or more teen passengers;
  • Late-night driving (11 p.m. to 5 a.m.), which increased from 17% with no teen passengers to 22% with two teen passengers, and to 28% with three or more teen passengers;
  • Alcohol use, which increased from 13% with no teen passengers to 17% with two teen passengers, and to 18% with three or more teen passengers.

In a telephone interview, Peter Kissinger, president and chief executive of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, told Tanya Mohn of The New York Times blog Wheels that the study did not include examples of distracted driving, such as texting, because federal data in that area, based on police reports since 2005, “was very inadequate.”

To conduct the study, which Mohn notes is a followup to the foundation’s report in May, the foundation analyzed data on fatal crashes that took place in the U.S. from 2005 through 2010, the AAA press release says. The report documents the prevalence of passengers ages 13-19 in fatal crashes involving drivers ages 16 and 17 and examines the characteristics of those crashes according to the age, sex, and number of teen passengers. Researchers found that 9,578 drivers ages 16  and 17 were involved in fatal crashes, and that 3,994 of those included at least one teen passenger.

The AAA press release is recommending prevention measures:

AAA recommends that all states adopt and enforce a comprehensive three-stage (learner’s permit, intermediate/probationary license, full/unrestricted license) graduated license system for novice drivers. These programs should limit driving at night and driving with young passengers, among other provisions designed to help novice drivers gain the skills and experience associated with responsible driving behavior.

‘Graduated driver licensing programs have been shown to greatly reduce crashes, injuries and deaths for everyone on the road when they limit new teen drivers to no more than one passenger,’ continued [AAA President and CEO Robert] Darbelnet. ‘Steps parents can take, such as setting and enforcing a parent-teen driving agreement, can build on state laws to improve safety by gradually easing teens into driving.’

Colorado uses a multi-stage licensing process for teens. You can learn more about it here:

AAA offers a wide range of tools at to help parents with teens who are learning to drive, including parent-teen driving agreements, online webinars, licensing information, and free online information from a National Institutes of Health program. AAA, founded in 1902, is North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, with more than 53 million members.


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