Rowdy Passengers May Pose a Greater Risk than Cell Phones for Teen Drivers

It’s well known that teen drivers are at greater risk of an accident for a variety of reasons. Inexperience is just one of them. Distractions like cellphones, adjusting dials and eating are even more issues for teens. But new research published in the Journal of Adolescent Health suggests the greater danger could be rowdy passengers.

A study from the University of North Carolina’s Highway Safety Research Center finds phones posed less risk than unruly passengers. The risk of a serious incident (such as avoiding a crash) was three times higher for drivers whose passengers were fooling around. But that risk was six times higher with passengers who talk loudly. Researchers also discovered that when other passengers were inside the vehicle, teen drivers didn’t use technology as much.

There are 43 states that only allow one passenger in the vehicle with a newly licensed driver. In New York, any driver under the age of 21 with a junior license cannot have more than one passenger. An exception to this is when a driving instructor, parent, or guardian is also in the vehicle.

Some experts suggest at least six months of driving experience before allowing passengers besides trainers in the vehicle. It’s also worth noting that the first six months to a year is when an accident is most likely to occur. This poses a risk of injury not only to the driver, but passengers as well as other occupants of other vehicles on the road.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) implemented a ‘5 to Drive’ teen checklist campaign, which includes no extra passengers. If you or a loved one suffered serious or fatal injuries in an accident, contact an attorney about your case and recoverable damages. An investigation can help determine contributing factors and liability, so call Gacovino, Lake & Associates at 800-550-0000 to set up a consultation with an attorney.

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