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Teens driving teens a deadly mix | AAA

Risky behaviors among 16- and 17-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes increased when teen passengers were present according to a study presented today by AAA and conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.  With motor vehicle crashes ranking as the leading cause of death for teens, AAA is calling for greater parental involvement and stronger graduated driver’s licensing legislation to promote road safety.

The new research, released as part of Teen Driver Safety Week (Oct. 14-20), shows that the prevalence of risky behaviors generally grew for 16- and 17-year-old drivers as the number of teen passengers increased.  Among 16- and 17-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes:

  • The prevalence of speeding increased from 30 percent to 44 percent and 48 percent with zero, two, and three or more teen passengers, respectively.
  • The prevalence of late-night driving (11 p.m. to 5 a.m.) increased from 17 percent to 22 percent and 28 percent with zero, two, and three or more teen passengers, respectively.
  • The prevalence of alcohol use increased from 13 percent to 17 percent and 18 percent with zero, two, and three or more teen passengers, respectively.

“Mixing young drivers with teen passengers can have dangerous consequences,” said AAA Washington spokesman, Dave Overstreet.  “AAA urges parents to set and consistently enforce family rules that limit newly licensed teens from driving with young passengers.”

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed data on fatal crashes that occurred in the United States from 2005 through 2010.  The report documents the prevalence of passengers ages 13-19 in fatal crashes involving drivers age 16 and 17, and examines the characteristics of those crashes according to age, sex and number of teen passengers present.  Researchers found that, nationally, 9,578 drivers age 16 and 17 were involved in fatal crashes and that 3,994 of these included at least one teen passenger.  Those numbers included 146 drivers in Washington state, age 16 and 17, who were involved in 69 fatal crashes that included at least one teen passenger.

“Teen crashes remain a huge problem nationwide,” said Overstreet.  “Past AAA Foundation research clearly shows how young passengers substantially increase a novice driver’s risk of being in a fatal crash – and these new findings underscore the need to refocus our efforts to address the problem.”

AAA has a wide range of tools available at TeenDriving.AAA.com to help parents simplify the learning-to-drive process .  These include parent-teen driving agreements, online webinars, licensing information and free online information developed from a National Institutes of Health program.

AAA Washington has been serving members and the travelling public since 1904.  The organization provides a variety of exclusive benefits, including roadside assistance, discounts, maps and personalized trip planning to its 1,050,000 members.  In addition, its full-service travel and insurance agencies provide products and services for members and the public.  Additional information is available through the company’s offices in Washington and northern Idaho, at AAA.com, or by calling 1-800-562-2582.

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