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Teen driver + teen passengers = increased crash risk

Being able to get behind the wheel of a vehicle is an exciting experience for most teenagers. Teens as young as 15 years of age can hit the road if they have a learner's permit (although they do need to be supervised by a licensed adult). While learning to drive and gaining that type of independence can be an extremely exciting experience, it can also be a very dangerous one. With that freedom comes a lot of responsibility, especially if your child plans to drive his or her friends around.

Most parents know that a car full of excited teenagers can be a recipe for disaster. Statistically speaking, the risk of being involved in a crash goes up when a teen driver has other teenagers in the car. It is not unheard of for teenagers to play loud music in the car, dance in their seat or distract the driver with conversation while in a vehicle. We've also heard of stories where a teenage driver tried to show off in front of his or her friends by driving recklessly.

What can parents do?

Thankfully the state of Colorado has laws that specifically help curtail this concerning behavior. A teenager who has his or her driver's license cannot have any passengers under the age of 21 in the vehicle for the first six months unless there is a parent or licensed adult in the car. For the following six months, the teenage driver can only have one passenger under the age of 21. The only exceptions to these rules are if the driver has a passenger with a medical emergency or siblings in the car.

Parents can help by making sure their children obey these laws. They can also set up their own rules that go beyond these state laws as they see fit. You have the best understanding of your child's ability to concentrate on the road so you may ask them to follow additional rules as they learn to drive.

It can also be helpful for teenagers to take a driver's education course. In some cases this course may be required, such as when a teenager between the age of 15 and 15 1/2 wants to get a driver education permit.

It may be frustrating for some teenagers to hear that they can't drive their friends around right when they get their license, but the motto "better safe than sorry" is a good reminder here. While driving can be a fun experience, safety should always come first.

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