Melinda Lynam will never forget the day when she learned that her daughter, Laura, was killed in a crash as a passenger in a car with 7 teens including the 16-year-old driver. Under the Graduated Driver Licensing Law in Virginia, the driver was only allowed one extra person who wasn’t a family member. Unbeknownst to Melinda, Laura and her friends had decided to all ride in one car. Despite the driver’s age and restrictions, two mothers watched as their children piled into the car. Neither parent expressed any concern over the number of passengers or the inexperience of the driver. If they had, Laura might be alive today. Laura was a shining star, a senior in high school, adored by her family and friends. She was number one in her class, an amazing athlete and couldn’t wait to get the results of her application to Yale. Unfortunately, Laura’s tragedy is not unique:
  • 2121 people were killed in crashes that involved a teen driver 15 to 18 years of age in 2018NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
  • One AAA study showed that their risk of crash “increases by almost half when a 16- or 17-year-old driver has one teenage passenger; it doubles with two teen passengers; and it quadruples with three or more.” AAA 
  • According to researcher Elisa R. Braver, PhD, with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “Of all motor vehicle occupant deaths among teenagers, 46% are passengers at the times of their fatal crashes.” She continues, “almost two-thirds of these teen passenger deaths occur when other teenagers are driving.” WebMD
Now that we are reminded of some of the deadly consequences of teen driving, what can we as parents and other family members do to help prevent these tragedies and keep our young people safe?