Study: Teen drivers with passengers riskier

Friends of the teens killed set up a

Friends of the teens killed set up a makeshift memorial at the crash scene. (Oct. 9, 2012) (Credit: Danielle Finkelstein)

About one-third of all fatal car crashes are caused by speeding, but for 16- and 17-year-old drivers, the numbers rise to almost half when there are three or more passengers, according to a new study.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, according to the Federal Highway Safety Administration.

This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week, and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released its latest findings to highlight how the prevalence of risky behavior generally grows for drivers ages 16 and 17 when teen passengers are present.

For 16- and 17-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes, the analysis found:

Prevalence of speeding increased from 30 percent with no passengers to 44 percent with two and to 48 percent with three or more.

Prevalence of alcohol similarly rose from 13 percent to 17 percent and 18 percent.

The foundation analyzed data on fatal crashes in the United States from 2005 through 2010. Researchers found 9,578 drivers age 16 and 17 were involved in fatal crashes, and that 3,994 of these included at least one teen passenger. All risk factors were more common among male drivers.

New York State's graduated driver licensing program, which took effect Sept. 1, 2003, limits teens with learner permits and junior licenses to driving only from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. in Nassau and Suffolk, except for limited travel to work, school and driver's education, with proof required. It also caps the number of passengers under 21, among other restrictions.

An earlier foundation report found loud conversation and horseplay were substantially more common with multiple teen passengers than with siblings or adult passengers.

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