Peer Influences on Teen Drivers 

Auto accidents are the leading cause of death and serious injury among teens; accident rates are especially high among new drivers carrying teen passengers. What are peers doing—as passengers in a teen’s car or friends setting norms for driving behavior—to affect how teens drive? We study adolescents’ reports of their behavior as drivers and passengers and their observations of peer effects on their driving.



Key findings:

  • There are numerous ways in which peers can influence teen drivers and adolescents are at an especially vulnerable age for peer influences (see Allen & Brown, 2009).
  • Teen passenger behaviors that distract the driver or disrupt safe driving are significantly associated with problem driving. These effects appear to be stronger than the potential impact of peer norms about dangerous driving (see Brown & Chan, in prep.).
  • Adolescents who report that peer passengers interfere with their driving in some ways tend to acknowledge that they engage in the same behaviors when they are passengers in a car driven by a teen (see Brown & Chan, in prep.).