Does the presence of passengers heighten a teen’s risk of getting into an accident?

Two teen girls driving recklessly

Car accidents injure and kill a significant number of teen drivers every year in Illinois and across the country. In 2012, 3,224 teens between the ages of 16 and 20 were killed in car accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Many of these teens were in the drivers seats when the fatal incidents occurred. While an Illinois car accident lawyer knows that there are many factors that can increase a teenager’s risk of becoming involved in a car accident, the presence of passengers may be one of the biggest.

Credible studies conducted throughout the years have found that teenager drivers are at an increased risk of becoming involved in car accidents when there are passengers present in the vehicle. One such study released by AAA evaluated teenage driver deaths that occurred over a three-year period. Of the 2,191 teenage drivers that were killed during that time period, 24.2 percent had one passenger under the age of 21 in the car.

Although the teen fatality rate decreased by 47 percent over the course of the study, the relation of teen drivers killed in respect to how many passengers were in the car stayed relatively steady. The results of the study ultimately showed that teen drivers are more likely to be involved in a car accident when they have younger passengers in the car compared to when they are driving alone.

More passengers may be hazardous

Why do passengers increase the likelihood that a teen will be involved in an auto accident? Passengers are a significant source of cognitive, manual and visual distraction. Rather than concentrating on the road, teen drivers become focused on engaging in conversation and passing items around the vehicle. They are also more likely to take their eyes off of the road when there are passengers traveling with them, a fact known by an Illinois car accident lawyer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teenage drivers often underestimate hazardous situations or simply fail to recognize that a situation may be dangerous. This is especially true when they are talking to other passengers in the car. Furthermore, teens are more likely to engage in dangerous driving behaviors, such as driving drunk, speeding and not wearing a seat belt, when they have other people present in the car.

Auto accidents caused by distracted teens not only kill and injure teenage drivers and their passengers, they also injure and kill innocent motorists and bystanders. People who have been injured in an accident caused by a negligent teen driver may want to contact an Illinois car accident lawyer.