Teen driving statistics may not seem too bright when observed in general. The number of vehicle crashes involving teens is still relatively high.
On the other hand, we would come off as pessimistic if we didn’t notice that, for example, the number of drunk teen driving cases has been on a significant drop over the last thirty or forty years.
Along the following lines, we’ll introduce you to the good and the bad when it comes to teen driving.
Teen Driving Statistics & Facts (Editor’s Pick)
- The leading cause of teen deaths and disabilities is motor vehicle crashes.
- Every day, 11 teenagers get killed due to texting and driving.
- 56% of teenagers admit to talking on the phone while driving.
- On average, eight teenagers lose their lives every day due to drinking and driving.
- 13% of passenger deaths occurred while a teen was driving.
- Nighttime and weekend driving are one of the leading causes of teenage fatalities.
- Teens are 2.5 times more likely to show risky behavior in traffic if accompanied.
- Drunk driving fatalities among teens have decreased by 81% since 1982.
General Teen Driver Facts
As estimated, there are around 15 million teen drivers in the US. That makes 6.7% of the nation’s driving population. Still, even though it is a small percentage compared to the total number of citizens who drive, the number of crashes caused by teen drivers seems to be relatively high.
1. The leading cause of teen deaths and disabilities is motor vehicle crashes.
As teenage crash statistics point out, there are five leading teen death causes. The first one is accidents (unwanted injuries); the others are homicide, suicide, cancer, and heart diseases.
Still, accidents take up almost half of teen death cases, and the leading cause of accidents is motor vehicle crashes. To put the numbers into perspective, even though homicide takes second place, it causes (only) 13% of all teen deaths in the US.
2. There are three main causes of teenage car crashes.
(Tracking System Direct)
All teen driving statistics agree upon one thing—the leading cause of teenage car crashes is distracted driving. Besides, it is the main cause of crashes even among adult drivers. The second most frequent crash cause among teens is speeding or going too fast for the particular road conditions. The third is the lack of scanning the road and the surroundings in general.
3. 1 in 5 teen drivers has an accident within the first year of driving.
(Do Something, Southern States Insurance)
Based on a survey among 16-year olds, teenage driving accident statistics show that teens are most likely to have a crash during the first year of driving. Besides that, teen drivers are ten times more likely to have a vehicle crash in the first year of driving than other age groups, proving that experience on the road truly matters.
4. 30% of male teenage drivers caused an accident by speeding.
(Tracking System Direct)
According to the stats on teenage driving from 2018, male teens are more likely to cause a crash due to speeding. Oppositely, only 18% of female drivers caused an accident for the same reason.
5. Only 44% of teenagers would speak up if someone’s manner of driving scared them.
Teens not feeling confident to talk when they feel endangered by the driver is a serious problem. Add the fact that crash risk increases proportionally when a teenage driver is impaired with another adolescent passenger.
Thus, parents should insist on talking to their children and providing full support about speaking out loud when they feel at risk in traffic. Don’t avoid or neglect this kind of conversation—it may save lives.
Teen Texting and Driving Statistics
Texting while driving, and using gadgets in general, can be more dangerous than we think, especially for teenagers, when combined with their lack of experience.
6. Every day, 11 teenagers get killed due to texting and driving.
(Victoria Advocate, edgarsnyder.com)
This means that texting and driving take around 4000 teenage lives each year. To illustrate the unawareness of the possible dangers, 32.8% of high school students admit texting or emailing while driving.
7. Texting while driving is directly connected to other types of risky behaviors.
Young driver statistics revealed that teenagers who text while driving are more likely to engage in other risky behaviors. For example, they are known to drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs, not wear a seatbelt, drive at nighttime, etc.
8. 56% of teenagers admit to talking on the phone while driving.
Furthermore, 71% of high school seniors use their phones while driving. Besides that, 40% of seniors admit changing music, using their phone (or another device), and driving simultaneously. This is one of the most disturbing teen driver facts, especially if we know that talking while driving lowers the young driver’s reaction as if they were 70 years old.
9. Texting and driving are most common among senior white students.
Not only is it more common among senior students, but it is also more ordinary among white students who drive—44% of them. Opposite to that, only 30% of Afro-American and 35% of Hispanic students tend to text and drive.
Teenagers Drinking and Driving Statistics
10. On average, eight teenagers lose their lives every day due to drinking and driving.
This means that annually, around 3,000 US teenagers die in crashes that involve drinking and driving. Additionally, around ¼ of fatalities include a drunk teenage driver.
11. 8,2% of high school students admit they were drinking and driving at least once.
Up to 8,2% of high school students drove under the influence of alcohol at least once in their lifetime, as teen drunk driving stats reveal. To make it worse, 15.1% of young drivers aged 18 to 20 admit drinking and driving in the past year.
12. Almost 60% of drunk teenage drivers involved in fatalities weren’t using a seatbelt.
To add to that, 70% of teenagers who lost their lives in accidents that include drinking and driving weren’t using a seatbelt.
13. Boys are more likely to drink and drive than girls.
Teenage crash rates point out that 27% of male teen drivers have been a part of a fatal crash involving drinking and driving, compared to 15% female drivers.
14. Almost 17% of high school students rode with a drunk driver in the last month.
(Tracking System Direct)
Almost 17% of US high school students stated they had been driven at least once in the previous 30 days by a person drinking before operating a vehicle.
Teen Driving Death Stats
Even though the US Government and the states individually have introduced a list of laws to lower the number of teen deaths in traffic, unfortunately, they still occur.
15. The fatal crash rate is almost three times higher among teenagers.
Compared to people aged 20 and over, teenagers are three times more likely to be involved in fatal car crashes. The most endangered age group is from 16 to 17.
16. In 2019, 2,375 teenagers lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes.
Since this research investigated all motor vehicle crashes combined (not just car crashes), teenagers aged 13 to 19 were a part of the study. Still, these teen driving stats are somewhat bright if we know that the numbers have dropped by 5% compared to 2018.
17. 13% of passenger deaths occurred while a teen was driving.
Research showed that in 2019, 13% of passenger deaths occurred when the driver was a teenager. The same year, two out of three teens who lost their lives in crashes were male.
18. Nighttime and weekend driving are one of the leading causes of teenage fatalities.
Teen drivers’ statistics expose that more than a half (52% to be precise) of crash deaths involving teenagers happen on Friday and during the weekend. Additionally, 37% of these fatalities occur between 9 pm and 6 am.
19. 55% of teens who lost their lives in crashes weren’t using seat belts.
(Southern States Insurance)
More than half of teens who died due to car crashes weren’t using a seatbelt. Different studies have shown that one of the most critical factors of this issue is communication with parents.
Teenage Road Rage Statistics
Anyone who ever got a glimpse at child psychology and psychology in general, knows that teenagers express rage more often than the other age groups. Hence, the fact that road rage occurs among teens usually doesn’t come off as a surprise.
20. Older teenagers are more likely to express dangerous behaviors in traffic.
Older teenagers tend to show aggressive behavior in traffic more often than the younger ones, as statistics on teenage driving from 2017 revealed.
21. Almost 50% of teenage drivers admit to driving under the influence of marijuana.
To be precise, 48,8% percent of them admit to having used marijuana and drove after it, judging by the 2020 study. Nonetheless, this type of behavior is on the rise. For example, the number of teens driving while being high on marijuana is 17% higher than in 2014. To add to that, statistics on teenage drivers show that most of them believe that driving under the influence of marijuana is less dangerous than ingesting alcohol and driving.
22. 43% of traffic fatalities involving teens include speeding as well.
A study conducted from 2015 to 2019 showed that almost half of traffic fatalities involving teen drivers happen because of speeding. The main problem is defined as the lack of experience. Namely, teen drivers need more time to react when driving fast than grown-up drivers.
23. Teens are 2.5 times more likely to show risky behavior in traffic if accompanied.
Statistics on teenage drivers report that the risk of crashing gets higher if the passenger is close to their age. Namely, teens get easily distracted by their surroundings and are more likely to cause a crash.
Moreover, 12% of all fatal car accidents involve a distracted teenage driver. Because of this, most US states have banned adolescent passengers in the vehicle if the driver is a teenager themself.
24. 40% of teens say they feel anger.
Since it is hard for teenagers to control their feelings in general, they can just as easily get overwhelmed with emotions while driving. Besides that, ingesting alcohol can easily enlarge emotions. So, keep in mind—it is of critical importance that teens do not drink and drive.
Positive Facts about Teenage Driving
Even though the statistics sometimes don’t seem too bright, there are some positive facts regarding teen driving. It is essential to notice that parents’ involvement and persistence in educating their teenagers on the dangers on the road is the first step towards improving adolescent driving stats.
25. Teen drivers with involved parents tend to wear seatbelts twice as much.
To add to that, statistics on teen drivers affirm that 56% of teenage drivers rely on their parents to teach them how to drive. This is an encouraging fact. Parents should educate and support their kids in becoming young drivers.
26. 66% of teen drivers say they care about their parent’s opinion on driving and using a phone.
(Southern States Insurance)
Thus, as a parent, you should talk to your teenage drivers and educate them on the issue. Undoubtedly, provide them with a phone holder. This way, you will lower your teen’s chances of using a phone for GPS purposes while driving.
27. Drunk driving fatalities among teens have decreased by 81% since 1982.
Teen drinking and driving statistics reveal the falling number of teen drunk driving fatalities.
According to the National Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA, among people younger than 21, there were 5,215 recorded cases in 1982. That was also the first year for this organization to monitor the number of teen deaths in traffic. In 2018, there were 980 recorded cases of teen drunk driving fatalities.
28. The number of teens who drink and drive has decreased by 54% since 1991.
(Talk it Out)
The last two teenage drunk driving facts are very optimistic. Still, teenage underage drinking and driving is an existing problem to this day. In addition, some studies show that most teens usually have a taste of alcohol at the age of only 14.
Even though teen drivers are the most endangered age group on the road, it is wrong to distract them or ban them from driving. Instead, support your teenagers and educate them on the matter of safety on the road. This way, you will give your part to lower the number of teen car crashes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Youngest Driving Age?
The youngest driving age in the US depends on the specific country. Still, the usual lower limit is 16 years old. In some states like Arkansas, Connecticut, Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Illinois, Texas, Virginia, and others, you must be 18 to get a full license.
On the other hand, in states like Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, North and South Dakota, 14-year olds can obtain a learner’s permit. Also, in North and South Dakota and Idaho, Montana, South Carolina, you can get a full license if you are 16 years old.
What Percentage of 16 Year Olds Have Cars?
Even though a large majority of US adults have a driver’s license (84.1% to be precise), the number significantly drops as the age drops. For example, only 34.8% of teenage drivers aged 16 to 19 own a driver’s license. On the other hand, the age group with the most drivers is from 50 to 68 years old – 93.5%, as a survey from 2020 shows.
What Percentage of Car Accidents Are Caused by Teenage Drivers?
Teen drivers are ten times more likely to cause a vehicle crash in the first year of driving. Accordingly, one in every five teen drivers has a crash within the first year of getting a license. For example, 4.4% of 17-year-old and 4.7% of 18-year-old drivers caused a car crash in 2016. This fact makes this age group the riskiest of all when it comes to inducing car accidents.
How Many Accidents Are Caused by Teenage Drunk Drivers?
As the NHTSA statistics show, around 2,000 fatal crashes happen each year because of drunk teenage drivers. For example, in 2017, there were 1,848 fatalities involving a drunk teenage driver. That makes 17% of all fatalities that happened due to a driver being intoxicated. To make it worse, the majority of them weren’t using a seatbelt. Around 70% of drunk teenage drivers who lost their lives weren’t using it, unaware that it could have saved their lives.
How Many Teens Die from Driving Each Year?
Each year, around 3,000 teenagers lose their lives on the road while driving. For example, in 2019, 2,375 teens died as a result of a motor vehicle crash. To add to the notorious statistics, around ¼ of all fatalities include a drunk teenage driver. On the bright side, the number of teen crashes has been reduced since restrictions on night-time driving for teens and other limits (such as forbidding driving with another teenager and raising the licensing age).
What Is the Number One Killer of Teenage Drivers?
The main cause of teen deaths and disabilities is motor vehicle crashes. All crashes are listed as ‘accidents – unwanted injuries.’ There are other less common causes of teen deaths, such as homicide, suicide, cancer, etc. The main reasons for teenage car crashes are distracted driving, speeding (or driving too fast for the particular road conditions), and lack of scanning the surroundings, as teen driving statistics imply.