Teen Drivers Raise Injury Risk to Child Passengers

This article originated in the March/April 2005 issue of Safe Ride News.

While relatively few children are driven by teenage drivers, those young passengers are three times more likely to be injured than those driven by adults. Children riding with teens are often not correctly buckled up and more children under age 13 ride in the front seat.

Findings are from a study by Partners in Child Passenger Safety, which found that 40 percent of the children in this group are under age 13, although those from 13 to 15 were at greatest risk due to less restraint use and much greater likelihood of riding in front. The added risk is highest with new drivers and decreases with experience.

Most children in these vehicles were buckled up in some manner. However, the proportion of those unrestrained was higher (5.3 percent) for children from 9 to 12 and highest (10.4 percent) for children from 13 to 15. Among novice and older teen drivers, about one-quarter of children under age 4 were improperly restrained. Among children 4 to 8, over 94 percent were inappropriately restrained. Factors that increased risk were the size and age of vehicles driven by many of the teens.

Researchers called for more parental awareness of the increased risk when their older children drive younger siblings. All states with graduated licensing laws allow family members to ride with newly licensed teens. Special efforts need to be made to make new drivers aware of the importance of appropriate restraint use for children. Also important is the selection of vehicles for teen use.


Teen Drivers and the Risk of Injury to Child Passengers in Motor Vehicles, Chen, IG, et al, Injury Prevention, 2005, 11:12–17.