Reporter: David Tate
Roanoke, VA - There's a lot to worry about when your teenager starts to drive, and now there is a new study that really shows how dangerous it is for your kids to drive with other people in the car.
AAA found a strong correlation between number of teen passengers. and the risk of teen drivers killed in car accidents. This new study shows the more young people in a car driven by a 16 or 17-year-old without adult supervision, the more likely that combination could prove lethal.
Without an adult in the car AAA says the chances a 16 or 17 year old driver being killed in a car accident increases with each additional passenger under 21.
The percentage increases 44% with one young passenger, it more than doubles with two and quadruples with three or more.
Mickey Owens, an instructor with Drive This Way driver training, has been training teen drivers for years and has an educated guess as to why the danger goes up so quickly.
"I don't think kids are out there designing to do what they do but someone gets in the car and says, 'C'mon you can do it' kind of thing and they do it," said Owens.
A graphic reminder of the danger came to our area in January when three teens were seriously injured and a fourth killed just minutes after leaving Franklin County High School together.
"The good thing about it is you can fix it. It is something you can fix," said Joyce Bradford with AAA Roanoke.
That's because the same study also found that a teen driver carrying at least one passenger, over the age of 35, reduces that same deadly chance by 62% and overall police-reported crashes by 46%.
Experts say that fix starts at home.
"Make sure they understand everything. You have to make the rules. There's laws to go by, but there's parent laws too," said Bradford.
The study confirms what most experts have argued for years, which is why Virginia state law already allows just one teen passenger for drivers under 18 when an adult isn't present. That doesn't include family members.