The research is clear – young passengers in the car with a teen driver increases crash risk.
Why? Peer passengers are distracting, and an inexperienced driver might have difficulty driving safely with other teens in the car. Passengers may be loud or rowdy or encourage the driver to speed. According to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), one simulator-based study found teens may run yellow lights just because they know they are being observed by friends.
To limit these risks, Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) systems include a restriction on passengers. Science shows these restrictions work. The National Safety Council recommends drivers under the age of 18 have zero passengers under the age of 20 for a minimum of 12 months.
When setting a passenger restriction for your teen driver, first consider your state law. You may feel the law isn’t enough, so set a restriction with which you are comfortable.
Your teen has a responsibility as a passenger to allow the driver to navigate the roadway safely. CHOP has some tips on how your teen can travel smart with other teens:
- Be responsible. Your teen can refrain from talking loudly, acting rowdy or insisting on loud music. Discuss how your teen can respect the driver.
- Insist on safety belts. Your teen should know to buckle up - and to urge others in the vehicle to buckle up, too.
- Call if there's trouble. If your teen feels uncomfortable traveling with a young driver, let them know it's okay to call to be picked up.