Preparing for Passengers
Teen drivers have the highest risk of being involved in a fatal crash of all licensed drivers: an average of 7 teens die each day in motor vehicle crashes, and hundreds more are injured.1
One way we can reduce teen crashes is to address the risk posed by passengers. The following strategies can help:
Graduated Driver Licensing Rules
Each state has a GDL law that restricts the number of passengers allowed in a young driver's car. According to NHTSA, teens are 250% more likely to take risks when driving with a teenage peer than when alone.2 The likelihood increased to three times when traveling with multiple passengers.2
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) recommends that parents with teenage drivers complete a Driving Agreement. Some baseline rules3 include:
- No cell phone use while driving
- No passengers in the first six months of driving
- All drivers and passengers must wear seatbelts
Families can modify their Driving Agreement as the teen gains experience and maturity.
In your school's driver education program, emphasize how passengers can act as positive role models. Passengers who speak up about risky driving behaviors can positively influence drivers.4 A "Speak Up" culture can encourage safe driving long after drivers age out of the GDL restrictions.
1 "Teen Drivers: Get the Facts" (Nov. 2021). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
2 "Teen Driving: Driver's Education." National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
3 "Driving Alone: Setting House Rules" (2020). Teen Driver Source, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute.
4 Lewis, Watson, and Ho (Apr. 2021). "Slow down! Get off that phone! The impact of a high school road safety education program in influencing whether a young person speaks up to a risky driver." Transportation Research.