Teenage drivers may take risk-taking behaviors, like over speeding, more in company of same sex friends than in company of friends of opposite sex.
The study was published on-line edition of the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.
The findings indicate that teen risky driving increases in the presence of teen passengers, particularly male teen passengers. But more important, the finding should remind teens-and the adults who care about them-that they need to drive safely, regardless of who is in the passenger seat, said the researchers.
The study was unable to determine why the presence of teen males increased the likelihood of speeding and tailgating, by the researchers of National Institutes of Health (NIH).
To conduct the study, the researchers positioned observers at the parking lot exits of 10 high schools in the suburban Washington, D.C. area. The observers took notes on the make and model of the departing vehicles, as well as the age and gender of the driver and passengers. A second group of observers was stationed ― to ū of a mile away from the parking lot, and used video recording equipment and a laser-assisted radar device to measure traffic flow. This second set of observers charted the speed of the vehicles and measured vehicle headway, an indication of how closely vehicles follow the vehicles in front of them. The study authors defined vehicle headway as the time (in seconds) between vehicles as they passed a fixed point in the roadway.
Both male and female teenage drivers were most likely to drive faster than the general traffic and to allow shorter headways if there was a male teenage passenger in the car. In fact, when a male passenger was in the vehicle, a quarter of teenage drivers exceeded the speed limit by at least 15 miles an hour.