Cape Coral Personal Injury Attorney: Is It Safe for Teens to Drive With Friends in the Car?

by Carmen Dellutri on February 8, 2012

Fort Myers personal injury lawyerAs we continually highlight on this blog, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers. There is a growing body of evidence that confirms what many parents likely already know—teens are at greater risk for a Cape Coral car accident when driving with friends in the car.

Studies have already shown that 16 percent of all distracted driving crashes involve drivers under 20. While most think of cell phone use as the biggest source of distraction, two new studies by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm confirm that teen passengers can be almost as dangerous.

Researchers with The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia surveyed 198 teen drivers, and found that teens who are most likely to drive with multiple passengers shared the following alarming attributes:

  • Considered themselves “thrill-seekers.”
  • Perceived their parents as not setting rules or monitoring their whereabouts.
  • Possessed a weak perception of the risks associated with driving in general.

The State Farm study examined a nationally-representative sample of 677 teen drivers involved in serious vehicle crashes, and compared the likelihood of driver distraction and risk-taking behaviors prior to a crash, both with and without peer passengers.

Among teens who said they were distracted by something inside the vehicle before they crashed, 71 percent of males and 47 percent of females said they were distracted directly by the actions of their passengers. Below are a few additional findings regarding male and female drivers:

  • Male teen drivers with passengers were almost six times more likely to perform an illegal maneuver and more than twice as likely to drive aggressively just before a crash, as compared to males driving alone.
  • Female teen drivers rarely drove aggressively prior to a crash, regardless of whether they had passengers in the car.

"Teen passengers can intentionally and unintentionally encourage unsafe driving," study author and behavioral researcher Jessica Mirman, PhD, said in a statement to the press. "Because it can be difficult for new drivers to navigate the rules of the road and manage passengers, it's best to keep the number of passengers to a minimum for the first year."

While Florida has adopted a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system that restricts the hours teen drivers can be on the road without being accompanied by an adult over 21, there are no restrictions on passengers before 11 p.m. Therefore, we encourage parents to talk to teens about the risks of distraction and set their own rules regarding teen passengers.

The Dellutri Law Group is focused on making bad situations better and putting lives back together. If your child or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Cape Coral car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation.

To learn more about your legal options, contact our experienced Florida injury attorneys for a free consultation. 

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