It’s rather unfair to generalize and say that teenage drivers are easily distracted. In fact, most of them are safe drivers and do their best to follow the rules of the road. But for those who don’t, there are some patterns, and a couple of them are surprising.
While using cellphones is definitely one dangerous distraction, recent studies indicate that merely having other teens present in the car can be a factor in car accidents.
One study used interviews of teens who were recently involved in car crashes to determine what they were doing just prior to the wrecks. Many of the teens reported participating in risky behaviors prompted by passengers.
In fact, of the teens who reported being distracted prior to a crash, 71 percent of males said they were directly distracted by the actions of the passengers. By contrast, 46 percent of females said the same thing. Another interesting contrast: males were six times more likely to perform an illegal maneuver than females. They were also found to be much more likely to drive aggressively, even if driving alone.
Another study found that teens who drive with multiple teens as passengers share characteristics, including being self-described “thrill seekers.” They also reported not being very aware of driving risks and felt that their parents did not impose tough restrictions or rules on their driving.
One moral of the story might be that parents should stay involved in their children’s driving, especially during the learner’s permit stage. It’s also good to set guidelines and rules, and to promote safe behavior. Many teenagers learn by example.
The studies were performed by Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance.