Progress Reported in Teen Passenger Safety
A new report on teen driver safety by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and State Farm shows encouraging trends among teen passengers.
From 2008 to 2011, risky behaviors of teen passengers (ages 15 to 19 years) declined: the number of teen passengers killed in crashes not wearing seat belts decreased 23 percent; the number of teen passengers driven by a peer who had been drinking declined 14 percent; and 30 percent fewer teen passengers were killed in crashes involving a teen driver.
Overall, the report measured a 47 percent decline in teen driver-related fatalities over the past six years.
Still, as recent high-profile multi-fatality crashes with teen drivers illustrate, crashes remain the leading cause of death for U.S. teens.
In 2011 more than half of teen passengers (54 percent) reported “always” buckling up.
“When most people think about those affected by teen driver crashes, they think of teens behind the wheel. This report includes encouraging news about teen passengers, who are often left out of the teen driver safety picture,” says Dennis Durbin, M.D., M.S.C.E., co-scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at CHOP, and lead author of the report. “When you see the needle move, as we have in this report, it’s time to apply the gas on programs that encourage safe teen passenger behaviors, as well as those that address what causes teens to crash.”
Based on recent research which identified specific behaviors or factors associated with teen driver crashes, Dr. Durbin said there are key areas he thinks have the greatest potential to further drive down the teen crash rate: reduce distraction from passengers and technology, increase skills in scanning, hazard detection, and speed management, and increase seat belt use to improve a teen’s chance of survival in a crash.
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