AAA: Fatality risk skyrockets with more teens in a vehicle

AAA: Fatality risk rises with number of teens in vehicle

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New data from AAA shows that the fatality rate for teen drivers and passengers skyrockets depending on how many teens are in the car, and FOX 9's Tim Blotz took a look into the eye-opening numbers.

AAA mined crash data on 16- and 17-year-old drivers across the country and found that when one passenger in the car is under the age of 21, the chances of a fatal crash jump by 44 percent.

Add another young passenger to that same car, and the chances of having a deadly crash double. With three or more passengers under 21, the chances of a fatal crash jump by 400 percent, according to AAA.

For years, it's been well-known that the number of teenagers in a car can dramatically impact safety. That's why Minnesota has a provisional license system that essentially says only one person under the age of 20 can be in a single vehicle for the first six months after a driver gets a license.

FOX 9 News met with too teenaged sisters whose father takes that driving restrictions one step further -- there's no music, including radios or iPods, allowed. Both Jordan and Mackenzie Howard agree that music and other passengers can be distracting.

"When you're talking to other people, you just start losing your focus with what's going on," said Jordan Howard. "Forget to check your blind spot and you can just get into a car accident right there."

Even the Howard sisters, who admit they sometimes ride with several other teens, admit the numbers are alarming -- but Gail Weinholzer, with AAA, says there is another lesson to learn from the numbers.

"If you add an adult to the vehicle instead of a teenage passenger, the fatality rate declines by 62 percent," she said.

Between 2001 and 2012, Minnesota lost 346 teenagers to car crashes, which are still the leading cause of death among children.

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