This flies in the face of recent similar studies, including one from the American Automobile Association (Chicago) which indicates that having friends in the car with a teen driver elevates the risk of a distracted driving related crash.
As any parent with a teenager will tell you, their behavior is often difficult to decipher and downright confusing. They are erratic, unpredictable and hard to define, so why should we be surprised that two different studies tell us two completely things?
The fact is that teenagers are more prone to distractions in general. They are also more likely to use handheld devices. These two facts, coupled with the fact that many teens are just climbing behind the wheel of an automobile for the first time, are very likely (if not inevitably) going to increase the risks of distracted driving behavior for many teens (if not all.)
It is difficult, but not impossible to monitor your teen driver’s behavior without making them feel as if they are a leash. And even if you decide to use in-car mounted video surveillance, or GPS tracking technology, so what? You’re the parent, you are allowed to do whatever you think will help keep your teenage driver and their friends alive.
But you can start with some simpler fixes first and see how that works. The first thing you should do is analyze your own teen’s behavior and judge for yourself what their greatest risks are. Then sit down and discuss these risks with them. Set rules about what they can and cannot do while they are driving. Putting away the cell phone is a great start regardless of what the studies say. Also, limiting how many friends, or even which specific friends may ride with them, and where, is a close second.
The truth is, take whatever steps you think are necessary to keep your child safe. Just as you always have.