Almost half of traffic accident deaths are passengers, not drivers. This means your teen has the same fatality risk riding with a teen driver as she does driving.
Local teens surveyed said that they carry other teen passengers in the car more than 50 percent of the time when they drive. The risk of a deadly crash increases dramatically when there is a teen passenger in the car with a teen driver; the risk increases with each additional teen passenger. The reason? Friends distract the driver. It’s as simple as that.
Consider delaying the time when your teen starts driving other teens around. Think of the awesome responsibility on your shoulders when you authorize your teen to drive with friends in the car. Statistically, the risk for both the driver and the passenger are increased. So it may make sense to wait a year or more before allowing your teen driver to have passengers, and even then to limit the frequency and circumstances.
At the same time, teach your teens to be smart passengers.
Teach them to speak up if the driver is going too fast, or doing something hazardous or reckless. Let your teen know that a passenger’s words carry a lot of weight with most teen drivers. So urge your teen to speak up or even get out of a car that is being driven dangerously. If more teen passengers would speak up, we’d have fewer tragic deaths on county roads.