'Teenage drivers less safe when they have passengers'

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The Independent Online

Teenage drivers are more than twice as likely to be killed when they have passengers than when they are on their own, a study shows. Older drivers have a reduced risk of fatal accidents when they have others in the car.

Teenage drivers are more than twice as likely to be killed when they have passengers than when they are on their own, a study shows. Older drivers have a reduced risk of fatal accidents when they have others in the car.

Teenage motorists are also more likely to die when carrying passengers who are under 30, and late at night. Experts say theyare more prone to speed, drive dangerously and drink alcohol in the presence of their peers.

The more people in a car driven by a teenager, the higher the risk of a fatal accident, says the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Drivers aged 16 and 17 were 39 per cent more likely be killed when they had one passenger, and 86 per cent more with two. If they had three or more passengers they were 2.82 times more likely to have a fatal crash.

The researchers called for a "graduated licensing" system for teenagers which could place restrictions on night-time driving and how many passengers new motorists can carry.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for United States teenagers, with 36 per cent of fatalities among those aged 15 to 19. In Britain, more than 3,000 people a year are killed on the roads, and car crashes are the main cause of death among teenagers. A 17-year-old boy is seven times more likely to be involved in a car accident than a middle-aged man.

One in three crashes in the United Kingdom involves men under the age of 20, and one-third of men between 17 and 20 have an accident within two years of passing their test. Safety experts suggest "log books" for learner drivers, who would submit evidence to the DVLA to prove they had sufficient driving experience before they got a full licence.

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