My first son is currently 14 and a half, and while he's not driving yet he has a few older friends who are. Until recently, one of our house rules was: no riding in a car with a teen driver. Though it was inconvenient at times (like when I had to drop off The First at some event to which "everyone else" got to ride with one of his friends), I was pretty pleased with this rule; it was simple, easy to enforce, and provided my son with a reasonable amount of protection from the dangers of teen drivers.
A couple of months ago, however, one of The First's best friends got his driver's license, and suddenly he was ready to re-negotiate the rule. After discussing the matter with my wife, I reluctantly agreed that forbidding him to EVER ride in a car with a teenager might be unnecessarily strict, so the issue became one of "under what circumstances would it be allowed."
I did a little research and found not only some useful stats to inform our eventual agreement, but also a pretty nifty online tool from Allstate called a Parent-Teen Driving Contract, which we modified slightly to create our own Teen Rider Agreement. I found the process of creating the document to be very valuable, as it forced me to consider what restrictions I felt were most important and why. The process also provided opportunities for some good discussions with The First about safe driving.
The one rule in our Agreement that The First objected to most strenuously was the one about not riding with "any teen driver who has had their license less than 6 months," since this ruled out riding with his newly-licensed friend this summer. The wife and I insisted on this one, however, and even discovered later that his friend's parents had implemented very similar rules at their house. It turned out that even if we would have allowed The First to ride with their son, they wouldn't have. I thought that was pretty cool.
During my research, the stats I found most interesting (in addition to those that showed just how dangerous teen drivers are in general) had to do with the increased risk of accidents when teen drivers were a) driving at night, and b) carrying other teen passengers. Here are links to some teen driving statistics that I found most useful:
- Fatality Facts 2007, from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. There's a neat graph about 2/3 of the way down the page.
- Reader's Digest's Anatomy of a Teen Car Accident. The slideshow is kind of annoying, but the stats are very intriguing.
- The CDC's Teen Drivers Fact Sheet.
- Carrying Passengers as a Risk Factor for Crashes Fatal to 16- and 17-Year-Old Drivers. This one's a pdf, the source for many of the stats you'll find online regarding the risks of teen passengers and driving at night. Only 6 pages, and remarkably readable.