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Teens' Driving Riskier with Male Teen Passenger, Teen Boy's Driving Safer with Female Teen Passenger

Armen Hareyan's picture

Teen Driving

Teen boy's driving safer with female teen passenger.

Teenage drivers-both males and females-were more likely to tailgate and exceed the speed limit if there was a teenage male passenger in the front seat, according to a study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health.

Conversely, male teenagers were less likely to tailgate or exceed the speed limit when a teenage female was in the front passenger seat.

In addition, female teen drivers were slightly more likely to tailgate if there was a female teen passenger in the vehicle with them.

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The study was published on-line in Accident Analysis and Prevention and will appear in a future edition of that journal.

"This study provides information that will be useful for officials in devising teen licensing standards," said NICHD Director Duane Alexander, M.D. "The findings indicate that teen risky driving increases in the presence of teen passengers, particularly male teen passengers. But more important, the finding should remind teens-and the adults who care about them-that they need to drive safely, regardless of who is in the passenger seat."

The study was unable to determine why the presence of teen males increased the likelihood of speeding and tailgating, said the study's first author Bruce G. Simons-Morton, Ed.D., M.P.H, Chief of NICHD's Prevention Research Branch.

Crash rates for 16- and 17-year-old drivers are higher in the presence of teen passengers, Dr. Simons-Morton and his colleagues wrote. However, researchers do not understand the reasons for these higher crash rates. Dr. Simons-Morton and colleagues at the survey research firm Westat undertook the current study to learn how the presence of teen passengers might affect teens' driving behavior.

To conduct the study, the researchers positioned observers at the parking lot exits of 10 high schools in the suburban Washington, D.C. area. The observers took notes on the make and model of the departing vehicles, as well as the age and gender of the driver and passengers. A second group of observers was stationed