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Having peer passengers can have safety implications for teens

Among the things that can create safety concerns when it comes to teen drivers is such drivers having peers as their passengers.

This can be seen in statistics from AAA. According to these statistics, having peers as passengers can significantly up a 16-to-17-year-old driver's chances of being a traffic fatality. It is estimated that such a driver's likelihood of dying in an accident goes up 44 percent when they have one under-21 passenger. Having multiple such passengers raises their chance even further. 

Why can having peer passengers up safety risks for a teen driver? One potential contributor is that passengers can sometimes be a distraction to drivers. Teen drivers may be particularly likely to be distracted by their peers. When a teen driver becomes distracted while driving, it can create accident risks, posing dangers for them, their passengers and fellow motorists. 

Many things can impact how much in peer passengers a teen driver is likely to have. One is what passenger-related laws the state they are in has on teen drivers. Here in Illinois, there are passenger restrictions on 16-to-17-year-old licensed drivers. One of these restrictions is that such drivers are prohibited from having more than one passenger under 20 at a time (not including certain relatives) until they turn 18 or have been licensed for 12 months (whichever happens first). 

Are there any changes you think Illinois should make when it comes to its passenger laws for teen drivers or other teen driving laws?

Another thing that can affect a teen driver's conduct regarding passengers is what the teen driver's parents have said to them and put rules on regarding passengers. So, peer passengers are among the things parents may want to have clear rules on for their teens. 

When their teen is approaching driving age, it can be important for parents to think carefully about what driving rules they are going give their teen, what driving safety issues they are going to put a particularly big focus on when it comes to their teen and how they are going to talk with their teen about traffic safety issues, as these things can have implications regarding the future safety of their teen out on the roads.  

Source: KHQ, "Study tells parents to keep nagging their teen drivers," Joe McHale, March 21, 2016

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