It's the season for football games and homecoming; a time when teen drivers are most likely riding together in cars, but a new study finds teenagers driving with their friends are at a higher risk of dying in a car crash.
Derik Thomas is a 15-year-old in driver's ed class at Quincy Senior High. Thomas says when he turns 16, it's going to be hard not having his friends in the car.
"I probably would be tempted," Thomas said.
Even fellow driver's ed student Blaise Genenbacher says he's going to have a hard time saying "No."
"I think I'm going to get pressured all the time by it," Genenbacher said. "You know, people wanting to just jump in my car."
In Illinois, 16 and 17-year-old drivers can have one friend under 20 years old in the car with them, unless it's a sibling.
Thomas said friends in the car bring distractions behind the wheel.
"When we're going down the road they'll turn up the music real loud," Thomas said.
"They'll just mess with the radio, even just yelling back and forth to each other," Genenbacher added.
In fact, a new study finds that 15 to 17-year-old drivers are nearly eight times more likely to get into a fatal accident when they're carrying two or more teen passengers.
That's why Driver's Ed Instructor Phillip Neally makes it a point to teach his students the consequences of breaking the passenger law.
"There's going to come a time when you're at a swimming party or a birthday party or a dance or something like that where you're going to have to be responsible enough to say 'Hey, I can only take one of you with me,'" Neally said.
Neally says the teen driver laws also hold teenage passengers liable if the car gets pulled over. The driver and the passengers could all get tickets.
Each state has its own restrictions on teen passengers for young drivers. Click here to find your state law.
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