Lesson 8: The Surprising Risks of Passengers
Compared to other driving risks like impaired drivers and cell phone distractions, passengers might not seem like a big deal. However, they can pose serious risks for inexperienced drivers, which is why your teen should avoid driving with them for at least a year.
This might be surprising if you have spent years driving with passengers, but their presence can be too much for teens who already have a lot to contend with behind the wheel. The biggest concern with passengers is the distractions they can create, whether they are intentional or unintentional. A simple question from a passenger can take your teen’s mind off the road, so imagine how distracting multiple passengers could be for your teen.
These risks are real whether the passengers are adults, younger siblings or other teens; one single teen passenger can drastically increase your teen’s crash risk. Your New Driver Deal should state that, once your teen is able to drive, he or she should not give friends or younger siblings rides for at least a year, and your teen should avoid being a passenger to new drivers, as well. This might be inconvenient, but it’s necessary to keep your new driver safe.
Talk: It’s crucial for your teen to understand these risks so that he or she knows what to expect even after getting a license. After driving your teen somewhere, take a few minutes to talk through how your teen behaved as a passenger, and highlight the ways that passengers can be distracting. The more you talk about these issues, the more your teen will expect safety from his or her eventual passengers.