Press Releases

AAA: Teens Driving Teens - A Deadly Mix


DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Risky behaviors among 16- and 17-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes increased when teen passengers were present, according to a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Motor vehicle crashes ranks as the leading cause of death for teens. AAA is calling for greater parental involvement and stronger graduated driver's licensing programs to promote road safety.

(Logo: )

The new research, released as part of Teen Driver Safety Week (Oct. 14-20), shows the number of teen passengers in a vehicle resulted in an increase of risky behaviors for 16- and 17-year-old drivers.

Among 16- and 17-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes:

  • Speeding increased from 30 percent to 44 percent and 48 percent with zero, two and three or more teen passengers, respectively.
  • Late-night driving (11 p.m. to 5 a.m.) increased from 17 percent to 22 percent and 28 percent with zero, two and three or more teen passengers, respectively.
  • Alcohol use increased from 13 percent to 17 percent and 18 percent with zero, two and three or more teen passengers, respectively.

"Teens driving teens can have deadly consequences," said Jack Peet, AAA Michigan Traffic Safety manager. "AAA urges parents to clearly communicate and limit the frequency that newly licensed teens drive with young passengers."

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed data on fatal crashes that occurred in the United States from 2005 through 2010. The report shows the prevalence of passengers ages 13-19 in fatal crashes involving drivers age 16 and 17, and examines the characteristics of those crashes according to age, sex and number of teen passengers present.  Researchers found that 9,578 drivers age 16 and 17 were involved in fatal crashes, and that 3,994 of these included at least one teen passenger.

"Teen crashes remain a huge problem nationwide," said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger. "Our past research clearly shows how young passengers substantially increase a novice driver's risk of being in a fatal crash, and these new findings underscore the need to refocus our efforts, to address the problem, from state legislatures to parents."

AAA recommends that all states adopt and enforce a comprehensive three-stage graduated license system (learner's permit, intermediate/probationary license, full/unrestricted license) for novice drivers. These programs should limit driving at night and with young passengers, among other provisions, to help novice drivers gain the skills and experience associated with responsible driving behavior.

"Statistics show that graduated driver licensing programs are a concrete way of reducing the risk of motor vehicle crashes for novice drivers," says Peet. "Parental involvement is key in the learning to drive process and steps parents can take, such as setting and enforcing a parent-teen driving agreement, improve safety by gradually easing teens into driving."

This study builds on a AAA Foundation report released in May that shows how risk of death in a traffic crash for 16- and 17-year-old drivers increases by 44 percent when carrying one passenger younger than 21, doubles with two and quadruples with three or more younger passengers, compared with driving alone. A previous study by the AAA Foundation found that potentially distracting loud conversation and horseplay were substantially more common with multiple teenage passengers in the vehicle than with siblings or adult passengers.

Teen drivers face a number of safety risks:

  • Teenage drivers are involved in more crashes per mile than drivers of any other age group
  • Drivers aged 16 to 17 are involved in about seven times as many crashes per mile driven compared to drivers in their forties, fifties or sixties
  • Teenage drivers are overrepresented in crashes that result in the death of other people, such as their passengers, pedestrians or occupants of other vehicles

AAA has a wide range of tools available at to help parents simplify the learning-to-drive process including:  parent-teen driving agreements, online webinars, licensing information and free online information developed from the National Institutes of Health program.

As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at

Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is an independent, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation's mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. Visit or for more information on how you can join our cause.

Stay connected with AAA: