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The deadly link between teenage drivers and teenage passengers


Georgia parents handing over the keys to a teen driver may not be aware of the very real threat that teenage passengers pose. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study that evaluated the link between certain passengers in a car with a young driver and fatal motor vehicle accidents. The study found the following to be true for 16- to 17-year-old drivers: 

  • When the one passenger in the vehicle is younger than 21, there is a 44 percent jump in the risk of a fatal accident.
  • When two passengers younger than 21 are present, the risk is doubled.
  • When three or more such passengers are in the car, the chances of getting into a fatal accident are approximately quadrupled.

The study did have a silver lining: Researchers found that when the teen driver had at least one passenger who was 35 or older, the odds of getting into a fatal accident actually decreased by 62 percent.

According to the Georgia Department of Driver Services, there is a graduated driver’s license program that teenagers go through in order to emphasize safety on the road. The program requires educational training, a vision test and a knowledge exam.

Parents can also do their part to promote safe driving practices. As the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety points out, a parent should accompany a teen driver as often as possible. Talking to teens about distractions – including cellphones and fellow passengers – is also a way to ensure that novice drivers develop good habits that will continue once they are on their own.

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