Tampa, FL - The acceptable number of teen passengers in a vehicle with a novice driver has long been a topic of debate. Two teens in a vehicle increase the likelihood of a crash by 86 percent, according to a study conducted by John Hopkins University, whereas three teens in a vehicle increase the crash risk by 182 percent. Despite the increased risks, the majority of parents (58%) allow their teen driver to drive with other teens in their vehicle, while 69 percent of parents allow their teen to be a passenger in the vehicle of another teen driver, shows a recent AAA Consumer Pulse Survey conducted in September. Moreover, 22 percent of parents surveyed said they set no limits on the number of passengers their teen can have in their vehicle as long as everyone wears a safety belt.
In an effort to curb the number of teen deaths resulting from car crashes, many states have implemented a Graduated Driver License (GDL) system, coupled with passenger restrictions. The GDL is a three-stage licensing process that places restrictions on novice drivers and allows them to gradually gain exposure to complex driving situations until the driver reaches the age of 18.
"Adequate driver education through both written exams and first-hand experience is critical to ensure novice drivers are as prepared and safe as possible before they are given full privileges to drive,” said Leticia Messam, AAA Traffic Safety Manager. “While Georgia and Tennessee both have GDL and passenger restrictions in place for teen drivers, Florida’s GDL process does not limit the number of teen passengers in a vehicle with a novice driver. However, parents can set limits with their teen driver by implementing a parent-teen driving agreement.”
In conjunction with state laws, parents should enforce a parent-teen driving agreement to set limits and rules for where, when and under what conditions the teen is allowed to drive. Passenger restrictions can also be outlined in the document. The agreement sets the parents’ expectations of the teen driver and the teens’ acceptance of set rules. The majority of parents surveyed (83%) said they already have an agreement in place with their teen driver and 97 percent of them did so as a precautionary measure. To view and print a parent-teen driving agreement, visit www.AAA.com/Teens.
AAA recently launched a new teen driver website that serves as a resource for both parents and teens with interactive learning tools, videos, state specific laws, driving school directories, and more. The website also features AAA StartSmart, a series of online newsletters and webisodes based on the National Institutes of Health’s Checkpoints program, which has been scientifically shown to help parents improve teen driver safety and is now offered nationally for the first time. Some of the topics covered in AAA StartSmart’s 18 newsletters and webisodes include:
Alcohol and other drugs
Parent-teen driving agreements
An online version of AAA’s Dare to Prepare workshop and lessons from AAA’s Teaching Your Teens to Drive coaching program are also available. For more details, visit www.AAA.com/Teens.
“Safe driving habits begin at home with parents setting good examples and talking with their teen about making good decisions behind the wheel. The primary purpose of AAA’s new teen website is to provide both the parent and teen with as many tools as possible to help make novice drivers as safe as possible,” said Messam. “The website offers everything from tips for selecting the best car for a teen driver to parent-teen driving agreements and much more.”
AAA Auto Club South has 79 branch offices serving more than 4.1 million members in Florida, Georgia, West and Middle Tennessee and Puerto Rico. Since its founding in 1938, AAA Auto Club South has worked to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve travel safety.