The Checkup: ‘Thrill-Seeker’ Teens with Peer Passengers Dangerous Behind the Wheel

New CHOP studies dive into teens' behaviors while driving.

car crash

Photo by George Doyle

• A pair of new studies from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia might have you seeking alternate forms of transportation. The first one looked at why teens who drive around with their friends in the car tend to make poorer decisions—and have more accidents—than ones who take to the streets solo. According to the findings, young drivers who tote around their peer share a unique set of characteristics: they consider themselves thrill-seekers, believe they have hands-off parents who don’t monitor their whereabouts, and have a poor understanding about the risks associated with driving. In a second related study, which looked at over 600 teens who had been in car accidents, researchers discovered that the ones with peer passengers reported being distracted right before crashing; of those, 71 percent of boys and 47 percent of girls said they were distracted by something inside the car. Male drivers, too, were more likely to perform some sort of aggressive-driving maneuver (show-offs) just before crashing.

• You know all those commercials about HPV and the vaccine? Here’s something they never tell you: that oral HPV strikes men more than women.

• This is pretty scary: the pathogens that cause childhood pneumonia and meningitis have apparently evolved such that they can now evade the very vaccines developed to stop them.