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J Adolesc Health. 2011 Dec;49(6):587-93. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2011.02.009. Epub 2011 Jun 11.

The effect of passengers and risk-taking friends on risky driving and crashes/near crashes among novice teenagers.

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Division of Epidemiology, Statistics, and Prevention Research, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-7510, USA.



The high crash rates of novice teenage drivers are thought to be caused by inexperience and risky driving behavior, exacerbated by passengers, driving at night, and other complex driving conditions. This study examined factors associated with crash/near crash and risky driving rates among novice teenagers, including driving at night versus day, passenger presence and characteristics, and driver psychosocial factors.


The vehicles of 42 newly licensed teenage drivers were equipped with recording systems that collected data on driving performance and occupant characteristics during their first 18 months of licensure. Survey data were collected at four measurement times. Poisson regression models with random effects were used to analyze crash/near crash and elevated gravitational force event rates (i.e., risky driving); incident rate ratios measured associations with covariates.


Crash/near crash rates among novice teenagers were 75% lower in the presence of adult passengers and 96% higher among those teenagers with risky friends. Teenage risky driving was 67% lower with adult passengers, 18% lower with teenage passengers; 20% lower during early night than day; and 109% higher among teens with relatively more risky friends.


The low rate of risky driving in the presence of adult passengers suggests that teens can drive in a less risky manner. The higher rate of risky driving among those with risky friends suggests that risky driving may be socially influenced.

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