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Directions in Highway Safety Cover - Summer 2012 Download Newsletter pdf
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Summer 2012

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Study Shows Teen Fatality Risk Quadruples with Multiple Young Passengers

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a new study showing a strong association between the number and age of passengers present in-vehicle and the risk of a teen driver dying in a crash.

The report, “Teen Driver Risk in Relation to Age and Number of Passengers,” found that the likelihood of a 16- or 17-year-old driver being killed in a crash, per mile driven, increases with each additional young passenger in the vehicle. Compared to driving with no passengers, a 16- or 17-yearold driver’s fatality risk increases 44 percent when carrying one passenger younger than 21. The risk doubles when carrying two passengers younger than 21 and quadruples when carrying three or more passengers younger than 21.

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The study analyzed data on crashes and the number of miles driven by 16- and 17-year-olds to assess the effect of having passengers in the vehicle on a teen driver’s safety. Though widely accepted that passengers pose a risk, the Foundation conducted the study to determine whether there are still risks, particularly given that teen driving deaths have declined significantly in recent years. The new report confirmed the risk, despite this progress.

Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger said, “We know that carrying young passengers is a huge risk, but it’s also a preventable one. These findings should send a clear message to families that parents can make their teens safer immediately by refusing to allow them to get in a car with other young people, whether they’re behind the wheel or in a passenger seat.”

The full report is located online at