Teen Drivers Increase Risk to Passengers

Lack of experience can make any task difficult. Practice is required to master even seemingly simple activities. When it comes to something as dangerous and complicated as driving, inexperience can be fatal.

A new study emphasizes the point that inexperienced drivers can be dangerous. The focus of the study, which was conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, was on young passengers between the ages of eight and seventeen who had been killed in automobile accidents. Several factors are identified as increasing the risk of death. Fifty-four percent of fatalities occurred when the driver was a teenager. High speeds and lack of seatbelt use were also significant contributing factors.

The risky behavior of teenaged drivers has received extensive research. The University of Michigan Traffic Research institute has several publications that explore the threat of young drivers to the health and safety of Michigan families. The data so far is not particularly uplifting: on the whole, novice drivers are unquestionably dangerous drivers.

The news is not all bad, however. A Michigan couple has introduced a service known as “Teen Spy” to help monitor young drivers and protect Michigan families. Parents who register for the service receive a bumper sticker to affix to their teen’s car. Other drivers on the road can then call the number on the sticker to register a complaint, which will be relayed to the teen’s parents. It is hoped that the sticker itself will have a deterrent effect on the teenaged drivers, and complaints hopefully will be rare.

Parents might also want to consider entering into a written agreement with their teenager to govern their behavior when driving and riding in a vehicle. The document could cover such issues as:

  • Mandatory seatbelt use
  • Observance of posted speed limits (or, in poor weather, observing a lower appropriate speed)
  • Never riding with someone who is intoxicated
  • Roads, highways, and other areas that are off limits

If nothing else, this agreement will let the teenager know the expectations and limitations of his or her behavior.

Of course, not all teen drivers are dangerous. The Children’s Hospital study reminds us, though, that even if your teenager is a safe driver, he or she can still be injured as a defenseless passenger.