Distracted driving is very much in the news, and so far, cellphones were fingered as the culprits. Now, there is a study that finally identifies the biggest distraction: Passengers. A study by State Farm, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health goes to the bottom of what experts have known for long: Peer passengers increase driver crash risk, especially amongst adolescent drivers.
The study analyzed a nationally-representative sample of 677 teen drivers involved in serious crashes. Says study author Allison Curry, PhD, director of epidemiology at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention.:
“Both male and female teen drivers with peer passengers were more likely to be distracted just before a crash as compared to teens who crashed while driving alone. Among the teens who said they were distracted by something inside the vehicle before they crashed, 71 percent of males and 47 percent of females said they were distracted directly by the actions of their passengers.”
The researchers found males with passengers were almost six times more likely to perform an illegal maneuver and more than twice as likely to drive aggressively just before a crash, as compared to males driving alone. Females rarely drove aggressively prior to a crash, regardless of whether they had passengers in the car.