The Association of Peer Passenger Influence and Vehicle Age on Teenage Drivers Being At-fault in Motor Vehicle Accidents





Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in General Psychology (MAGP)




The presence of peer passengers is a significant factor for teen drivers’ over involvement in motor vehicle accidents (MVAs). However, an important and often overlooked difference between teens and other drivers are that teen drivers have a higher tendency to drive older vehicles. It is important to take into account vehicle age because of the disproportionate number of teen drivers involved in MVAs could be explained by their lack of accessibility to newer vehicles with more adequate mechanical integrity and safety features. The current study was an investigation of the effects of peer passenger influence on teen drivers’ MVA at-fault likelihood while controlling for vehicle age. Over 200,000 MVA cases within the state of Florida from 2007 to 2008 were used in the study. Odds ratios (ORs) were used to measure the effect peer passenger presence and vehicle age had on teen (15-19), young (20-34), and older (35-55) adults drivers being atfault in MVAs. We found for young adults drivers with a peer passenger present, driving a vehicle 6-10 years old, had a 6 percent increase in MVA at-fault likelihood compared to teen drivers under the same conditions. We also found that older adult drivers showed a steady increase in MVA at-fault likelihood across all vehicle age categories with all ORs being significant. One can infer from the results of this study that when controlling for peer passengers presence and vehicle age, MVA at-fault likelihood significantly increases for young and older adult drivers to levels equal or greater to teen drivers’ MVA at-fault likelihood.

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