In the past we've focused on the dangers associated with talking or texting on a cellphone while driving. And while these certainly are risky driving behaviors, it turns out that for teen drivers; even just having another teen passenger in the car with them is also risky.
Two recent studies, one by a children's hospital and one by State Farm Insurance, both came to the same conclusion: having a teen passenger raises more of a risk for an accident than if a teen was driving alone.
For example, one of the studies found that a teen male driver is six times were likely to perform some type of an illegal driving maneuver if he has a friend in the car. Additionally, male teen drivers are also twice as likely to exhibit aggressive driving behaviors when another teen passenger is with them. Both of these -- not following traffic laws and aggressive driving -- increases the risk of getting into an accident.
The same was not true for female teen drivers, as the study found they rarely drive aggressively, and having a passenger in the vehicle with them did not change this.
However, for those teens -- both males and females -- who had previously been in serious accidents, many reported being distracted by their passenger right before the crash. Out of all asked, 71 percent of males reported passenger distraction right before the accident, and 47 percent of female teens reported the same type of distraction.
Of course, these studies can be quite frightening for anyone -- especially those who just happen to be out on the roadways. However, the hope is that parents will monitor their teen's driving behaviors, and encourage their teens to be both safe drivers and passengers, to reduce the risk of injury for themselves and others.