Motor Vehicle Safety: Teenagers – The Most Dangerous Drivers

The American Automobile Association’s (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety recently released data[1] that supports Virginia law limiting the number of passengers riding with a teenage driver[2], and supporting parents who further restrict the passengers allowed in the car when a teenage child is driving.  For many years, statistics have shown that teenagers have been the most dangerous drivers on the road, crashing almost four times more often than older drivers. A study released in May 2012 by AAA indicates for the first time in a decade how teenager’s risk of death increases when they have other teenagers in the car.  “[The risk of death] increases by almost half when a 16 or 17 year old driver has one teenage passenger; it doubles with two teenage passengers; and it quadruples with three or more.” These statistics should make all parents think twice before allowing their teen to ride with other teens or give rides to other teens. Many states have increased requirements for new drivers such as a mandated number of hours with parents in the car providing supervision, increased hours in driver education, as well as graduated licenses. Parents are encouraged to enforce the law and otherwise limit the number passengers in order to prevent accidents for their teenager children.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a study May 31, 2012 which indicates that an additional 500 lives could be saved and 9,500 crashes could be prevented if all states adopted the toughest form of graduated licensing.[3] The five aspects of the toughest teenage driver laws or Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) are: permit age, practice driving hours, license age, night driving and passenger restrictions. “Graduated licensing enables new teen drivers to gradually build up driving experience as they mature and develop on the road skills.” This system encourages supervised driving practice and assists the young driver to develop the skills necessary to drive on their own. All parents of teenagers who will be driving soon or are driving should take a close look at the statistics on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Website as well as National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website, and the applicable laws of your state for teenage drivers.   Make sure your teenage driver is aware of the laws, and also determine what additional restrictions you, as a responsible parent, will place on your teenage driver to encourage safe driving by your teenager driver.

[1]  See Report at AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, “Teen Driver Risk in Relation to Age and Number of Passengers”, May 2012, at  See also article, Washington Post, Wednesday, May 5, 2012,  by Ashley Halsey III, “More Teens In Car Means Higher Risk”, at
[2]  See Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website, which states : ” ? Also, [if you are under age 18] you are restricted to the number of passengers under age 18 who may travel with you when you drive (one passenger if you are age 16; three passengers if you are age 17). Learner’s permit holders may not carry more than one passenger under age 18. Passenger restrictions do not apply to family members.” at   Also see Va Code §46.2-334.01.B. at
[3] See News Release, “States could sharply reduce teen crash deaths by strengthening graduated driver licensing laws”,Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, May 31, 2012, at ?