Teen Passenger Risks

Peer passengers are a dangerous distraction for teen drivers. Although it may seem harmless for the newly licensed to drive their friends home from practice or to the movies, teen passenger risks are real. The crash risk doubles when teens drive one peer passenger and triples with two or more teen passengers.

To manage teen passenger risks, Graduated Driving Licensing (GDL) provisions include passenger limits for newly licensed teens. Parents and teens need to agree to this initial delay on driving with friends in the car. It’s nonnegotiable and about safety for both teen drivers and their passengers.

When driving passengers, teens behind the wheel are responsible for everyone’s safety. It’s a big responsibility, and teen drivers should feel empowered to set rules for their car and to take control. Here are key rules for the car:

  • Always wear a seat belt
  • No alcohol or drugs
  • Do not pressure the driver to speed
  • Keep the music down
  • Do not act wild
  • Show respect for the driver

As passengers, teens should respect the responsibility their friends are taking to drive them. It’s also important to not accept rides from newly licensed teen drivers. Parents can be the perfect scapegoat. Together devise a plan to say, “my parent is expecting to pick me up.”


Fatalities among passengers of young drivers (ages 15-20) increased by 22% from 2019 to 2020.

More Facts and Statistics About Teen Passenger Risks

  • In 2020, 56% of teenage passenger deaths occurred in vehicles driven by another teenager. Among deaths of passengers of all ages, 15% occurred with a teen behind the wheel. 
  • In fatal speeding-related crashes with teen drivers, the risk increases exponentially with each additional peer in the vehicle. 
  • Although most states now have restrictions limiting the number of passengers newly licensed teens may drive as part of Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs, most allow them to carry family members.
  • Teen drivers with peer passengers are more likely to be distracted just before a serious crash than teens driving alone.