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Teen passengers: 'The other distraction' for teen drivers
Date:1/24/2012

A pair of studies by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and State Farm identify factors that may lead teens to drive with multiple peer passengers and, then, how those passengers may affect their driver's behavior just before a serious crash. The studies were published today in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Experts have long known that peer passengers increase teen driver crash risk. What hasn't been well understood was how they increase crash risk. "These studies help us understand the factors that may predispose teens to drive with multiple friends and how those passengers may contribute to crashes by distracting the driver and promoting risky driving behaviors, such as speeding, tailgating, or weaving," said study author Allison Curry, PhD, director of epidemiology at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention. "Knowing this, we can develop programs that work in tandem with current Graduated Driver Licensing laws that limit the number of passengers for teens during their first year of driving."

The first study surveyed 198 teen drivers and found that teens who are most likely to drive with multiple passengers shared the following characteristics: considered themselves "thrill-seekers," perceived their parents as not setting rules or monitoring their whereabouts, and possessed a weak perception of the risks associated with driving in general.

"The good news is that that these teens make up the minority," said Jessica Mirman, PhD, study author and a behavioral researcher. "Teens in this study generally reported strong perceptions of the risks of driving, low frequencies of driving with multiple passengers, and strong beliefs that their parents monitored their behavior and set rules."

The second study analyzed a nationally-representative sample of 677 teen drivers involved in serious crashes to compare the likelihood of driver distraction and risk-taking behaviors just prior to the crash when teen
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Contact: Dana Mortensen
mortensen@email.chop.edu
267-426-6092
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Source:Eurekalert

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