The days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the 100 deadliest days for teenage drivers. In 2012, more than 550 of the 1,000 people killed in accidents during this period were teens.
According to the National Safety Council, teen driving increases during the summer months, and their driving is likely more recreational versus driving during the school year. It is more likely teen drivers could be traveling unfamiliar routes and with passengers.
Passengers pose a substantial distraction to teenage drivers, increasing the risk of fatal accidents by at least 44 percent. A passenger can distract a teen driver for the duration of the trip, whereas using a cell phone to text pulls their attention from the road for only short periods of time.
A University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center study found that passenger-related activities were more likely to contribute to dangerous teen driving than technology use. Teen drivers were six times more likely to be forced to take action to avoid an accident when loud conversations were occurring in the vehicle. With horseplay inside the car, teens were three times more likely to be involved in such an episode.
The National Safety Council says parents may not realize the risk passengers pose to their teen drivers. While distractions such as cell phone use and texting are well understood, the danger of friends in the vehicle of a new driver can be easily overlooked. Safety advocates encourage parents to set rules regarding passengers for their teenage drivers.
In efforts to curb passenger distraction for teen drivers, most states have laws pertaining to new drivers and their passengers. Some states prohibit teenage drivers from transporting passengers for six months to a year after obtaining a driver’s license, while others allow a single passenger.
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