“Good Passengers and Not Good Passengers:” Adolescent Drivers' Perceptions About Inattention and Peer Passengers

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The purpose of this qualitative focus group elicitation research study was to explore teen driver perceptions of peer passengers and driver inattention.

Design & Methods:

We utilized focus groups for data collection and content analysis to analyze the data, both of which were guided by the theory of planned behavior. We conducted 7 focus groups with 30 teens, ages 16–18, licensed for ≤1 year to examine attitudes, perceived behavioral control, and norms related to driving inattention and peer passengers.


The sample was 50% male, mean age 17.39 (SD 0.52) with mean length of licensure 173.7 days (SD 109.2). Three themes emerged: 1) “Good and not good” passengers; 2) Passengers and technology as harmful and helpful; and 3) The driver is in charge.


While passengers can be a source of distraction, our participants also identified passenger behaviors that reduced risk, such as assistance with technology and guidance for directions.

Practical Implications:

An understanding of teens' perceptions of peer passengers can contribute to the development of effective interventions targeting teen driver inattention. Nurses are well-positioned to contribute to these teen crash prevention efforts.

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