Driving with Friends in the Car

Many states have some form of graduated licensing laws, which phase in the driving privileges of teens so that they have time to develop their driving skills. The graduated licensing plans often include restrictions on the number of passengers that may be in the car with a teen driver.

Why is this? According to a recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, when teen drivers transport passengers, there is a greater risk of a crash. This risk goes up with an increased number of passengers, and is also higher if the passengers are not related to the driver (as opposed to a sibling).

You’ve seen how it is when your child gets together with friends – talking, laughing, music, and cell phones. Friends can distract a driver from paying attention to the road. There is also a tendency to show off and take greater risks when friends are present. When teens drive other teens, they tend to drive faster than others around them and leave less distance between their vehicles and the vehicles in front of them.

What To Do
It’s important that you become aware of the rules and regulations in your state regarding teens transporting passengers. Then review those rules with your teenager, and decide what the consequences will be for breaking the rules. Remember that you have the right to make your own family rules stricter than the graduated licensing rule. When your teen is transporting another person, he is responsible for that person’s safety, and this may be something you’re not comfortable with.

Consider having your teen help you draw up a driving contract that specifies all state and family rules in regard to driving. This way, there will be no doubt about what the rules are and what the repercussions of not following those rules will be.