"Good Passengers and Not Good Passengers:" Adolescent Drivers' Perceptions About Inattention and Peer Passengers

J Pediatr Nurs. 2016 Nov-Dec;31(6):e375-e382. doi: 10.1016/j.pedn.2016.07.006. Epub 2016 Aug 3.


Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative focus group elicitation research study was to explore teen driver perceptions of peer passengers and driver inattention.

Design & methods: We utilized focus groups for data collection and content analysis to analyze the data, both of which were guided by the theory of planned behavior. We conducted 7 focus groups with 30 teens, ages 16-18, licensed for ≤1year to examine attitudes, perceived behavioral control, and norms related to driving inattention and peer passengers.

Results: The sample was 50% male, mean age 17.39 (SD 0.52) with mean length of licensure 173.7days (SD 109.2). Three themes emerged: 1) "Good and not good" passengers; 2) Passengers and technology as harmful and helpful; and 3) The driver is in charge.

Conclusions: While passengers can be a source of distraction, our participants also identified passenger behaviors that reduced risk, such as assistance with technology and guidance for directions.

Practical implications: An understanding of teens' perceptions of peer passengers can contribute to the development of effective interventions targeting teen driver inattention. Nurses are well-positioned to contribute to these teen crash prevention efforts.

Keywords: Driving; Inattention; Motor vehicle crashes; Passengers; Teens.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / psychology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Automobile Driving / psychology*
  • Dangerous Behavior
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peer Group*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk-Taking