May 18, 2020 Car Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. While getting a driver’s license and riding with friends is a rite of passage for most teens, riding in a passenger vehicle with a teenage driver (whether as the driver or as a passenger) is a risky proposition. This comprehensive breakdown of teen driving facts and statistics serves to highlight the inherent risks in teenage driving, the impact of advanced driver licensing programs on teenage driver safety, and any other relevant facts and figures that can accurately paint the picture of teenage driving in the United States.
From 2014 – 2018, there were 20,626 fatal crashes in the United States that involved at least one young driver (aged 15 – 20) – nearly 12.5 percent of all fatal crashes. Among U.S. states, Utah had the highest share of deadly crashes that involved teen drivers with 16.43 percent, while Maryland had the lowest share with 9.49 percent (*the District of Columbia had a share of 6.98).
Teenage drivers are inherently at a greater risk for crashes and fatal crashes than all other age groups in the United States. In fact, teen drivers have the highest involvement rate in fatal crashes of any other age group. In 2017, 37.1 drivers aged 16 – 20 were involved in a fatal crash for every 100,000 licensed driver.
Involvement in fatal crashes is just the beginning. In 2018, over 1.3 million crashes in the United States involving a teenaged (young driver aged 15 – 20). This includes 955,913 property damage only crashes, 359,268 injury crashes and 4,000 fatal crashes. From 2004 – 2018, these types of crashes made up an estimated 20,170,439 crashes.
|Year||Fatal Crashes||Injury Crashes||Property Damage||Total Crashes|
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle crashes are the top cause of death in teenagers – more than one in three deaths in this age group are due to a fatal car accident.
The CDC has identified these particular demographics as the key risk groups among teenage drivers.
In 2017, the motor vehicle fatality rate was more than two times higher for male drivers aged 16-20 than the fatality rate for female drivers of the same age.
However, female teenagers have the highest involvement rate in fatal crashes of any female age group. Yet it is still, less than half the rate of male teens.
The first months following securing a driver’s license are the most dangerous for a teenage driver. According to the 2017 National Household Travel Survey, the crash rate per mile driven is 1.5 times higher for 16-year-olds than it is for 18 and 19-year-olds.
Why are teenage drivers especially vulnerable to fatal car accidents?
Teens are more likely than older drivers to underestimate or not be able to recognize dangerous situations. Additionally, teenagers are more likely to have confidence in their abilities, despite a lack of experience. Teens are also more likely than adults to make critical decision errors that lead to serious crashes.
From 2014 – 2018, 3,855 teens were killed in fatal crashes where at least one driver had been drinking – that’s nearly 29 percent of all motor vehicle deaths in that age group.
In a study analyzed by the NHTSA, teen drivers were two-and-a-half times more likely to engage in one or more potentially risky behaviors when driving with just one single teenage passenger. When a teen driver travels with multiple passengers, the likelihood of teen drivers engaging in one or more risky behaviors when traveling with multiple passengers increased to three times.
In fact, there is a direct, positive correlation between the number of teen passengers in a car and an increased risk of a fatal crash.
Teens and young adults often have the lowest seat belt use rates when compared to other age groups. In 2017, only 58.8 percent of high school students reported that they always wore seat belts when riding as passengers.
Among young drivers aged 15-20 who died in car crashes in 2017, almost half were unrestrained at the time of the crash (when restraint use was known).
In 2016, a total of 818 teen drivers (15- to 18-year-old) and 569 passengers died in passenger vehicles driven by teen drivers. 58 percent of those passengers were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the fatal crash.
Speed is a major factor in crashes for all age groups, yet impacts teens the most – due to inexperience. In 2016, speeding was a factor in 32 percent of the fatal crashes that involved passenger vehicle teen drivers. A study by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) found that from 2000-2011, teens were involved in 19,447 speeding-related fatal crashes.
In 2017, 40 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths among teen drivers and passengers aged 13-19 occurred between 9 pm and 6am, and 51 percent occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Generally, the time period between 6 am and 6 pm is the most dangerous for teenage drivers.
Many studies have suggested that starting school at a later time can significantly impact academic performance. The same can be said for teen driving safety, as drowsy driving is a significant factor in motor vehicle crashes.
A 2014 study by Liberty Mutual and SADD found that parents are not only engaging in the same behaviors that they warn their own children against, but they also do so when their children are in the vehicle. According to the findings,
83 percent of surveyed teenagers say they have witnessed their parents engaging in these unsafe behaviors while they are in the car with them.
Even worse, when teenagers speak up, parents don’t listen. 60 percent of teenagers reportedly have asked their parents to stop any of the above dangerous driving habits. However, 41 percent say their parents continue these unsafe behaviors even after their teens ask them to stop – and 28 percent of parents justify why they should be allowed to engage in these unsafe behaviors.
If parents cannot follow the same safe driving principles that they are divulging to their teenage drivers, why should we think teen drivers are going to take this advice to heart?
In order to combat alarmingly rising rates of fatal teen crashes, Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs were instituted to give young drivers a way to safely gain driving experience before being given full driving privileges. While all 50 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) currently have some form of a GDL system in place, generally they all follow the same general progression of learning stages.
Additionally, some states enact provisions within their GDL program to restrict certain unsafe driving behaviors.
The age at which drivers may obtain licenses also varies. While a state like Arkansas allows a teen driver to begin driving as young as 14 years of age, others don’t allow them to begin driving until age 16.
GDL laws have reduced the number of teen fatal crashes, but not all teens are observing the laws. Part of the problem is that parents don’t always enforce the rules when it comes to following the regulations for their teens. In a recent survey of 1,000 parents of teen drivers, nearly one-third of parents say they don’t always enforce GDL laws. While parents cited a variety of reasons for this, the main one was that they were simply unaware of the GDL laws in their state (see responses below).
While these programs have been shown to reduce teen fatality related crashes, some studies have found that more stringent GDL programs may provide more significant results in driver safety. Research by the National Institutes of Health found that the most effective GDL programs incorporated at least five of these key elements:
According to a study by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), if every state adopted the five strictest limitations in GDL laws across the nation, it would prevent more than 9,500 car accidents and more than 500 motor vehicle fatalities every year.
When you add a teen driver to your auto insurance policy, your rates will rise significantly. On average, rates can increase 130% after you add a teen to a policy, costing an extra $2,000 yearly, depending upon your state and your insurer. If you buy your teen his or her own policy, it will cost much, much more. You should also be aware of the fact that rates for males tend to be higher than for females.
Of course, there is a reason for all this: new drivers are among the most dangerous on the road. Teens have the highest accident rates and file more claims than other drivers. Additionally, males tend to riskier driving behaviors and to be involved in more fatal crashes than females.
Research also shows that drivers ages 16-19 continue to have the highest rates of crash involvement, injuries to themselves and others, and to be involved in fatality related crashes.
Insurance for your teen will vary widely, but the bottom line is that it is costly. Specifics depend on a variety of factors, including where you live, whether your teen has had any accidents in the past, his or her age, etc.
The good news is that the cost of insurance will decrease as your teen ages as long as he or she doesn’t get into any accidents or get any tickets. A clean driving record is important.
Here are the average auto insurance rates for each teenage level according to insurance.com:
Understanding the relationship between age and driving behavior is vital is protecting everyone on the roads. The problem of risk and young drivers has interested highway safety researchers and administrators for many years.
Parents can play a vital part in ensuring the safety of their teenage children when they are on the road. The following precautions in teenage drivers can significantly reduce the risk of teen driving.
Most importantly, set a good example. As a parent, do not engage in the same unsafe driving behaviors that you have said are dangerous. This not only undermines the advice you are giving but may prevent teen drivers from taking the advice seriously.