The observed effects of teenage passengers on the risky driving behavior of teenage drivers

Accid Anal Prev. 2005 Nov;37(6):973-82. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2005.04.014.


The association between teenage passengers and crash risks among young drivers may be due to risky driving behavior. We investigated the effect on two measures of risky driving in the presence of young male and female passengers. Vehicles exiting from parking lots at 10 high schools were observed and the occupants were identified by gender and age (teen or adult). At a nearby site, the speed and headway of passing traffic were recorded using video and LIDAR technology. Teenage drivers drove faster than the general traffic and allowed shorter headways, particularly in the presence of a male teenage passenger. Both male and female teenage drivers allowed shorter headways (relative to no passenger or a female passenger) in the presence of a male teenage passenger, while the presence of a female teenage passenger resulted in longer headways for male teenage drivers. Overall, the observed rate of high risk driving (defined as speed > or =15 mph or more above the posted speed limit and/or headway of < or =1.0 s) for the teen male driver/male passenger condition was about double that of general traffic. In conclusion, the presence of male teenage passengers was associated with risky driving behavior among teenage drivers.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / psychology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Automobile Driving / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Peer Group*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Safety*
  • Social Support
  • Students / psychology
  • United States