Why Teen Drivers With Teen Passengers Are a Dangerous Combination

Posted on behalf of James Lynch on October 16, 2023  in Car Accident News. Updated on October 20, 2023

male teen driver with two teen passengers, including a female.Putting teen drivers together with teen passengers is a dangerous combination that significantly increases the risk of a deadly crash. This is in part due to their inexperience behind the wheel. However, it is also because of their young age. Teens are often more easily influenced by their peers, which could include the reckless or careless behavior of passengers in their cars.

It is National Teen Driver Safety Week 2023, and at Lynch Law Firm, PC, we want to take some time to focus on how we can keep our teens safer behind the wheel.

If you need legal help after you or your loved one is injured by a negligent driver, our auto crash lawyers in New Jersey have extensive experience, and we are prepared to help.

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Why Teen Drivers Are More Likely To Cause Crashes

Studies show that teens between the ages of 16 to 19 years have the greatest risk. Male drivers are three times as likely to crash during that time frame as female drivers of the same age. The riskiest time for all teen drivers is the first few months after getting their license.

Reasons Why Teen Drivers Have a Higher Crash Risk

There are multiple reasons why teens are more likely to cause crashes, but these are some of the most  common:

  • Inexperience behind the wheel
  • Immaturity
  • Distracted driving, such as texting, taking selfies or videos or using electronics
  • Driving at night in unfamiliar areas
  • Getting coerced by passengers to go faster or take other driving risks
  • Drinking and driving
  • Talking on the phone
  • Messing around with the radio or selecting music on a smartphone
  • Doing hair or makeup
  • Getting distracted by teen passengers in the car

Doing seemingly harmless things, such as chatting with a passenger could cause an inexperienced teen driver to not notice a stop sign at a busy intersection, another vehicle running a red light or a child crossing the street after getting off a school bus.

Teens May Be Influenced By Passengers To Ignore Traffic Safety

Even teens who are typically more cautious could be influenced by teen passengers riding in the car with them. Teenage boys can be especially rowdy, but female teens are also at risk.

Teen passengers who have a reputation for being reckless or “living on the edge” could significantly influence or egg on teenage drivers to engage in reckless driving behaviors such as:

  • Excessively speeding
  • Ignoring traffic lights and signals
  • Driving aggressively
  • Drag racing in urban areas
  • Drinking and driving

How Adding Passengers Increases the Risk of a Teen Driver Crash

In general, teens are more easily influenced by their peers. Male drivers especially may be goaded or teased into taking risks they might not take if they were driving alone. Additionally, having teen passengers riding in a car increases the noise level. Teens are not likely to ride in a car quietly. They are at the very least likely to be chatting away. They are even more likely to be joking around or laughing, maybe even singing. More reckless passengers may try to cover the teen driver’s eyes, grab the steering wheel or step on the pedal, which could very quickly lead to a crash.

Teen drivers need to focus intently on the road and driving at all times. Looking away to talk to a passenger for a couple of seconds is long enough to cause a crash due to:

  • Missing an object lying in the road
  • Not seeing a pedestrian or cyclist crossing the road
  • Failing to stop at a stop sign or red light
  • Accidentally turning the steering wheel while looking away from the road
  • Being unable to brake in time to keep from rear-ending a vehicle in front of you

According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA), there were over 2,600 fatal crashes involving teen drivers in 2021.

What Can Parents Can Do To Help Encourage Their Teen Drivers To Focus on the Road?

Parents really have a tough job, because in a sense they have to be “the bad guy,” That said, there are things parents can do to help to keep their teen drivers safer while they gain maturity and driving experience.

  • Set curfews in the first few months or year your teen is driving
  • Be sure your teen understands his or her duty of care as a driver and what that means
  • Talk to your teen driver about peer pressure when driving
  • Discuss the risks of engaging in reckless behavior behind the wheel
  • Explain the types of consequences, some of which are long-term or irreversible, for engaging in risky driving behavior

One thing we often forget as parents is how much teens tend to model our behavior. It is true that teens may consider parents to be less cool than when they were younger, but they still mimic things they do, including when driving. This is why continuing to model responsible driving behavior is so powerful, such as parents who:

  • Wear seat belts
  • Refrain from texting and driving
  • Adhere to good road safety
  • Follow traffic laws
  • And more

You may feel like your teen is not paying attention, but they likely absorb much more than you think.

Injured in a Crash Due to Driver Negligence? Call Lynch Law Firm, PC Today

At Lynch Law Firm, PC, we are deeply committed to helping victims injured by negligent drivers. While compensation will not change what has happened, it can help victims and their families begin to recover and move forward with their lives.

Our firm has the staff and resources to fully manage your car crash case from day one. We also have a history of proven results.

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