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Teens at risk when driving with passengers


OKLAHOMA CITY — Driving-related accidents remain the number one killer of those under the age of 25, often times those victims are teens.

While experts have said for years a teen’s risk of being involved in a fatal accident increases when other teens are in the car, there are now new numbers showing just how dangerous it can be.

In Oklahoma, there are laws restricting teen drivers from having other teens in the car with them when they first get their license but that’s only a temporary restriction.

Once that’s lifted, experts said parents need to make rules to keep their teens safe.

AAA Oklahoma’s Chuck Mai said, “Teens don’t have the experience behind the wheel. They think they are eight feet tall and bullet proof and can do anything and they think it will never happen to me.”

Janice Brown said, “It’s very scary not knowing where they’re at, who they’ve got in the car, whether they listened to all the things you told them.”

Brown’s teen daughter recently totaled her car but survived the accident.

In this case, she was alone but a while back she and her friends were all involved in another accident.

Brown said, “They were distracted, a car was coming at them they made an over-correction went up a curb, hit a mailbox, took out a tree.”

While they were OK, experts said having multiple teens in the car increases their risk of being involved in a fatal accident.

New data from AAA shows a teen with no passengers is likely to speed about 30 percent of the time, that increases to 48 percent when there are three or more passengers in the car.

AAA encourages parents to be proactive in protecting their drivers.

Mai said, “Parents who are contentious about their teen’s safety should impose even more strict laws inside the home.”

Such as limiting how many passengers they can have and restricting the time of day and type of roads they’re allowed to drive on.

AAA’s new research shows when more teens are in the car there is a higher risk of late night driving accidents and accidents involving alcohol.

AAA chart of teen risky driving behaviors and risk of fatal accident:

Risky Behavior   No Passengers     2 Passengers  3+ Passengers       
Speeding   30 percent  44 Percent  48 Percent       
Late-Night Driving   17 percent 22 Percent  28 Percent       
Alcohol Use   13 percent 17 Percent  18 Percent