What’s At Stake

Car crashes are a teen’s greatest danger, evidenced by the more than 5,000 teens who will likely die on America’s roads this year. National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW) was established by Congress in 2007 to focus attention on the nation’s epidemic of teen car crashes and to find solutions. The next NTDSW takes place October 20 to 26, 2013.

There are many well-known factors that raise a teen driver’s risk of getting in a fatal crash: Speeding, drinking, talking on a cell phone and driving at night are among them. Yet there’s another dangerous factor that recent research shows few teens recognize: peer passengers.

Just one teen passenger doubles the risk a teen driver will get into a fatal crash; three or more passengers quadruples the risk. Yet a study by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and State Farm Insurance Companies® found that only 1 in 10 teens knows that giving a friend a ride is dangerous.

The risk is not just for the driver: Another CHOP and State Farm study found that starting at ages 12 to 14, a child passenger’s risk of dying in a crash with a teen driver doubles, and the risk continues to rise for each teen year. Most teen passengers who die in crashes are riding with a teen driver.

Based on this research, teens helped us develop the ‘Ride Like A Friend. Drive Like You Care’ (RLAF) peer-to-peer program, including practical tips on how passengers can be helpful. Buckling up, limiting cell phone conversations, and respecting the driver are some of the messages the program offers to teens.

This research also supports the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations for Graduated Driver Licensing laws that restrict the number of passengers teens may drive during the probationary license period.

The RLAF campaign is supported by CHOP and State Farm. Start planning now for this year’s National Teen Driver Safety Week.