New Research on Teen Passengers – A Leading Distraction

Passenger safety has emerged as a critical component of efforts to reduce the nation’s high rate of teenage traffic deaths, a focus bolstered by two new studies that link increased crash risk with teen drivers carrying teen passengers.

The studies, by the research alliance of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and State Farm Insurance Companies┬«, offer evidence-based guidance for parents and policymakers seeking to reduce the high rate of teen car crashes, the No. 1 cause of death for American teens.

The recent findings add to the growing body of research that teen driver crash rates rise when teen passengers are in the car, putting both drivers and passengers at risk. The studies also point to the need for Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws in every state that restrict passengers for novice drivers and encourage safe passenger behaviors.

Key findings of the two CHOP and State Farm studies include:

  • Adolescent and teen passengers are more likely to die if a teen driver is behind the wheel. Starting at ages 12 to 14, a child passenger’s risk of dying in a crash involving a teen driver doubles, and the risk continues to rise for each teen year.

  • Most teens are unaware of passenger risk. Only 1 in 10 teens believe peer passengers can influence their safety.

  • Most teens (60%) know inexperience heavily influences safety, but only 15% correctly view their peers as inexperienced drivers.

Based on this evidence, CHOP and State Farm are supporting a variety of outreach efforts to improve teen passenger safety. For more information, visit

Other Research Reports


Miles to Go: Establishing Benchmarks for Teen Driver Safety
(January 2011)
An inaugural national research report from CHOP with support from State Farm Insurance Companies® that shows the far-reaching impact of teen driver crashes. The report establishes 11 indicators that will be used to measure how far we have come and how far we have to go in making progress for teen driver safety.
Download the report


Driving Through the Eyes of Teens, A Closer Look
(October 2009)
Read this comprehensive report of recently published YDRI research providing evidence-based recommendations for teen driver safety practitioners and parents that may reduce teen crash risk. Parents play a crucial role in teen driving safety, according to two studies published in Pediatrics in October 2009.
Download the report

Thousands of Teens Reveal Their Driving Perceptions and Experience in Scientific Survey
Researchers Identify Gaps in Education May 2008 – In a study released in the journal Pediatrics, more than 5,000 teens identified the factors they perceived as most important in a safe driving situation and then estimated how often they see their peers exhibit these behaviors. Their answers revealed important gaps in teens’ understanding of factors that can lead to crashes.
Read the study

Driving: Through the Eyes of Teens
(January 2007)
Read the results from our national survey and focus groups conducted with more than 5,600 high-school students across the country. Learn what teens say they are seeing and experiencing as drivers and passengers – in their own words.
Download the report

The Science of Safe Driving Among Adolescents: A special supplement to the journal Injury Prevention
(June 2006)
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance Companies® convened the world's leading experts on teens, driver safety, and teen driving in fall 2005 and late summer 2006. That expert panel created an evidence-based roadmap for exploring effective interventions to reduce teen driver-related crash and injury risk. These findings were published in a special supplement called "The Science of Safe Driving" in the June 2006 issue of the journal Injury Prevention.
Read the abstracts