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Mixed Signals About Teen Motorists and Multiple Passengers
I came upon a couple of different articles recently that really caught my attention with the contrasting message they provided. The articles themselves were about distracted driving, more specifically the effect that carrying multiple passengers can have on a teen motorist.
The first article I read reported on a survey that Consumer Reports conducted with motorists between the ages of 16 to 21. In the survey, 50% of teens claim they are less likely to talk on their cell phone or text while driving than teens who are driving alone.
Now, a day later I was sent a link to an article reporting that the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety had conducted a study that shows a direct association between number of passengers and the risk of that teen driver dying in an auto accident. In the report, it was found that the chances of a 16 to 17-year-old motorist dying in a car wreck increases with every mile driven and with each additional teen passenger in the car.
Here’s a numbers breakdown of the study that AAA conducted:
- Chances for death increases 44% when carrying one passenger under the age of 21
- Those chances double when the motorist is carrying two passengers under the age of 21
- And finally, the chances of a fatal teen accident quadruples when carrying three or more passengers under the age of 21
Okay, what the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety had done was conduct a “study” wherein Consumer Reports conducted a “survey,” and both came up with very contrasting results. Now, clearly the truth of how multiple passengers can affect teen drivers comes from the study that uses facts to come to its conclusion, not a survey that asks teenagers what their opinion is. That should be obvious to most people, I believe.
Now, the reason why the whole thing bothers me is the way the study is reported by some online news sources. Using article titles like, “Consumer Reports: Teens safer driving with friends” and “Distracted Driving Study: Teen May Be Safer With More Passengers” says something very specific to a person who is casually looking through the day’s news stories.
To me, that’s dangerous and sends a mixed message about one of the biggest epidemics facing our youth. To be fair, though, this is not the fault of Consumer Reports, who was only reporting what they had found in a survey, however I do find it to be a tad irresponsible for any news source to share headlines in such a way.
Consumer Reports Survey: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/06/distracted-driving-puts-young-drivers-at-risk/index.htm
AAA Study: http://www.aaafoundation.org/pdf/2012TeenDriverRiskAgePassengersPR.pdf