A new study found that new teen drivers are greatly influenced by passengers that support risky driving behaviors. The research, published in the journal Health Psychology, utilized a driving simulator, varied the degree to which passengers either supported or condemned risky driving maneuvers.
The results showed that male teen drivers took more risks when they believed that their passenger approved of risky driving. Although we’ve known that teen crashes tend to rise as more teen passengers are added to the car, this study helps at understanding why this this actually occurs- it’s as if teen drivers drive more recklessly when they believe it is expected and/or valued by their passenger(s).
So what does this mean for driver educators? One answer could be that new teen drivers should be encouraged to remain committed to and focused on safety, and resist any temptation to drive in a riskier manner. Some good old-fashioned role-playing might be effective here, pairing drivers next to each other in the classroom and practicing refusal skills.