There are many distractions that can take a driver’s eyes off the road. All too often, unfortunately, these distractions result in car accidents. 

Most people know about the potential danger caused by distractions such as cellphone use, loud music, eating or using navigation systems. But did you know that your passengers can also contribute to a crash?

How passengers can cause distractions

A wide range of passenger behaviors can distract a driver from the road. This can include when passengers:

  • Dance or sing
  • Play music too loudly
  • Act wildly
  • Have been drinking alcohol
  • Have been smoking marijuana
  • Are using alcohol or drugs in the car
  • Are teenagers
  • Are young children

Younger drivers are most at risk

Teens, young adults and inexperienced drivers are the most likely to get distracted by passengers. But, only about 10 percent of teens view their passengers as potential hazards. Studies show that one teen passenger doubles the fatal crash risk, and three or more quadruples the risk.

In many cases, passengers may even encourage the younger drivers themselves to speed, participate in substance use or drive recklessly. In fact, according to teendriversource.org, when a teen driver has two or more peers in the car it more than triples the risk for a fatal car crash.

State-imposed restrictions for teen drivers

Many states, including Colorado, restrict the number of passengers that teenager drivers can have in the car with them at one time.

  • During the first six months of licensure, no passengers under age 21 are allowed unless a parent or licensed adult driver is in the vehicle.
  • For the next six months, only one passenger under age 21 is permitted.
  • No more than one passenger is allowed in the front seat while a teen is driving.

Additionally, it is mandatory for teen drivers and passengers to wear seat belts and cell phone use by the driver is prohibited. For the first year, teenage drivers also are not allowed to drive between the hours of midnight and 5. a.m.

How to help teens be safe on the road

The most important thing you can do to help teens and other new drivers is to extend education beyond teaching them to drive. Help young people understand the importance of limiting distractions when they are behind the wheel. Also help teenage passengers understand the risks associated with distracting the driver. And, most importantly, make sure you are modeling safe driving behaviors, free of distractions.

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