Parents in Tennessee should pay attention to teen driver’s passengers

Teenage drivers who carry teenage passengers are at a heightened risk of getting involved in a fatal car accident.

Three years ago, a 17-year-old teenager was driving her vehicle through Tennessee when she crossed the center line. According to WAFF, her vehicle struck a box truck. Both the teenage driver and her 17-year-old passenger died as a result of the incident.

The tragedy is an unpleasant reminder of the dangers involved with teenage drivers carrying teenage passengers. Recent studies demonstrate why parents may want to take measures to ensure young drivers have appropriate supervision while on the road.

The numbers do not lie

In 2012, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety launched a study to evaluate how passengers of varying ages affect teenage drivers. With the advent of graduated license programs that typically limit whom a young driver can transport, the foundation sought to use updated data to explore the relationship between young passengers and fatal car accidents.

The study found the following when it comes to 16- to 17-year-old drivers:

  • Transporting just one passenger who is younger than 21 increased the risk of the teen driver dying in a fatal car accident by 44 percent.
  • Transporting two passengers younger than 21 doubled the risk.
  • Transporting three or more passengers younger than 21 quadrupled the risk.

There is hope, however, that emerges from this study: Researchers found that if the teenage driver had at least one driver who is 35 or older in the vehicle, the risk of a fatal accident actually decreased by 62 percent. This reinforces the belief that a parent or responsible adult should accompany a teen driver when possible.

Tennessee’s laws

Tennessee has laws in place that aim to reduce the number of car accidents among teenagers. According to AAA, 15-year-olds in the state may obtain a learner’s permit. With this type of license, the young driver may only get behind the wheel if a licensed adult 21 or older is in the front seat of the vehicle. Once the driver turns 16, he or she may apply for an intermediate restricted license. This enables the young driver to be alone in the vehicle. However, even with an intermediate license, passengers are restricted to just one unless there is a licensed adult 21 or older in the car.

Once the driver has had an intermediate restricted license for a year, he or she may apply for an intermediate unrestricted license, which does not carry any limitations on passengers. Then, upon graduating high school, earning a GED or turning 18, the driver may apply for a full license.

These laws are in place for good reason. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes, drivers between 15 and 19 years old are at a greater risk of getting into a car accident than any other age group. Anyone with questions regarding car accidents in Tennessee should consult with an attorney.