More teen passengers die when drivers are other teens

WASHINGTON — When a teen driver has only teen passengers in the car, the fatality rate for all people involved in a crash goes up 51 percent, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

According to AAA, in 2016, teen drivers were involved in more than 1 million police-reported crashes resulting in more than 3,200 deaths. When teenage drivers were carrying teen passengers, fatality rates rose:

  • 56 percent for occupants of other vehicles;
  • 45 percent for the teen driver;
  • 17 percent for pedestrians and cyclists.

In Virginia, a total of 69 people were killed in 2016, when the driver was a teen: 38 were drivers; 13 were passengers; 14 were in other vehicles; and 4 were walking or cycling.

In the same year in Maryland, 33 people were killed in crashes involving a teen driver: 8 were drivers; 9 were passengers; 10 were in other vehicles; and 6 were pedestrians or cyclists.

In the D.C. that year, one person in another vehicle was killed in a crash involving a D.C. teen driver.

“Teens simply lack experience behind the wheel, which increases the odds of a deadly outcome, not just for the teen driver, but for their passengers and others on the roadways,” said Jennifer Ryan, director of state relations for AAA.

“Parents of teens must take this rite of passage seriously by setting and consistently enforcing rules to limit teenage passengers in the vehicle.”

The travel advocacy group offers tips for parents to help teenagers drive safely:

  • Require teens to log at least 100 hours of supervised practice driving with a parent before driving solo.
  • Begin by practicing driving in low-risk situations and gradually move to situations that are more complex: highways, nighttime, driving in the rain, and on and around challenging roadways (for instance, curves).
  • Allow no more than one non-family passenger under the age of 20 to ride with the teen driver during the first six months of driving.
  • Use slightly different routes each practice session.
  • Practice adjusting speed based on three factors: visibility, on-road traffic and different road conditions.

Data used in the study came from the 2016 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the Crash Report Sampling Survey System.

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