Every adult remembers that teenager who got their driver’s license before their group of friends. They may only have been a few months older, but they hit that important age first. They started driving to school while everyone else was taking the bus.

That new-found freedom is huge for teens – and not just those with a license. The whole group probably tried to take advantage of it. They got rides to school, to the movies or to the mall. Maybe they packed as many people in the car as they could, filling every seat belt. It was new, it was fun and it was exciting.

It was also dangerous. It continues to happen today, and it’s still just as risky.

What the statistics say

Passengers are distracting, increasing the odds of an accident for teenagers. Here are a few critical statistics that help to paint the picture:

  • Per mile driven, a young teen driver (from 16 to 17 years old) saw a 44% increase in the odds of getting into a fatal accident if they had one other teen in the car with them.
  • If the teen had two other teen passengers, the odds of an accident doubled.
  • If there were three or more passengers in that same age range, the odds of a fatal crash quadrupled. This is clearly one of the most dangerous situations you can encounter.

Meanwhile, researchers also looked at the fatal accident odds with a passenger who was 35 years old or older. It may have been a parent, but didn’t have to be. It just had to be an adult who was at least twice as old as the driver. In those cases, the odds of the fatal crash decreased by 62%.

After an accident

The unfortunate reality is that other drivers on the road also have to contend with this risk. You might be an adult who is driving home from work alone. You may be one of the safest drivers on the road. But, if you are driving near a car full of teens, that puts you at risk of getting injured in an accident that they cause. If this happens, be sure you know your legal rights.