Volume 93, Issue 92

Thursday, March 23, 2000


Haskett says sorry

Pill accessibility increases

Eye disease put in focus

Study links number of car passengers to teenage accidents

Gas study criticized for being a smoke-screen

Head hunter talks about importance of high-tech skills


Caught on campus

Study links number of car passengers to teenage accidents

By Chris Lackner
Gazette Staff

A recent American study suggests that more is not always merrier when it comes to teenagers behind the wheel.

The investigation into fatal car crashes among 16 and 17 year olds revealed that accidents were more likely to occur when a car was full of passengers, said study researcher Li-Hui Chin. "Distraction could be a key factor," Chin explained. "Sometimes passengers can encourage a driver to get involved in risky situations."

Chin said the results of the study also showed when the number of people accompanying a teenage driver increased, there was a greater likelihood of death occuring in an accident.

Chin explained the report recommended a graduated licensing system for teens, as well as restrictions on the number of passengers that could accompany a teen in a vehicle. "Only 24 of the 50 states in this country have graduated licensing. It's a proven point that they save lives," she said.

Bert Killian, president and general manager of the Ontario Safety League, said six out of Canada's 10 provinces had graduated licensing.

"All indications are that Ontario has shown an approximate 31 per cent decrease in teenage automobile fatalities since the graduated licensing program was introduced in 1994," he said.

Chin said she and her research team studied information from tens of thousands of accidents. "It's no coincidence that one-third of all North American teenage deaths are due to automobile accidents," she said. "The chances of a fatal crash for a 16 or 17 year-old are seven times higher then drivers between 30 and 59."

Barb Koppe, manager of marketing and communication for the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, said many North American jurisdictions have traditionally allowed full licences at an early age. She explained this led to a high rate of fatalities in the past. "A massive reduction in teenage fatalities has taken place since the induction of the graduated system into various areas of the continent."

Killian said in North America, a car is integral to teenagers, which is why it has taken so long for graduated licensing to be adopted in some areas. "Many young people go to school or have part-time jobs. There was some disagreement when the system was put into place in Ontario."

Chin said the results of her study were ones which everyone suspected, but few studies had proven. "I hope this will be an important study. I hope it will help save young people's lives," she added.

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