Put Three Teens in A Car Together and They Are At Increased Odds Of Dying


Teenagers are at a higher risk of getting into fatal accidents if teen passengers are in the car. The risk significantly decreases when a teen is driving with a passenger over 35-years-old. According to the Washington Post, a recent study shows that 15 to 17-year-old drivers are almost eight times more likely to get into a fatal accident while transporting two or more teenage passengers.

Forty seven states have already adopted graduated licensing programs that put specific requirements on the number of passengers teenage drivers can carry. Other restrictions include cell phone use and limiting driving overnight. While most states comply with these jurisdictions, the percentage of fatalities that occurred when other teenagers were in the vehicle increased each year between 2002 to 2011. However, the number of novice teenage drivers in fatal accidents dropped by 60%. This statistical difference can be the result of certain peer pressures that affect driving habits when other teens are present in the vehicle.

Similar to regulating teen cell phone use while operating a vehicle, it is difficult to monitor the number of teen passengers a teen driver has. Unless state jurisdiction is heavily marketed as having serious penalties if not followed, it's unlikely teenagers will remain committed to the guidelines. It's interesting to note that deaths among young people 18 to 24-years-old have declined over 10 years, but those among 15 to 17-year-olds increased.

Novice drivers, those 15 to 17-years-old, are at a disadvantage. "Research has found that the prefrontal cortex of the brain — the region responsible for weighing the consequences of risky behavior — is the last part of the brain to develop."

Therefore, these poor driving records are not solely due to limited driving experience, but also cognitive and emotional development in younger teens.

Russell Henk, a researcher at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), conducted a study that found more teenagers die in car crashes than from any other cause, costing the United States $41 billion each year. This national problem has reached epidemic proportions in Texas.

A possible solution is to develop of social and behavioral programs that address the peer pressure teen drivers may face when operating vehicles, and create stricter state jurisdictions to support these programs.