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Teen Driving

Teen drivers have the highest fatal crash risk of any age group. Per mile traveled, they have the highest involvement rates in all types of crashes, from those involving only property damage to those that are fatal. The problem is worst among 16 year-olds, who have the most limited driving experience that often results in risk-taking behind the wheel. Learn what parents can do to educate teenage driver.

Crash Risk Factors

  • Driver error

    Compared with crashes of older drivers, those of teenagers more often involve driver error.
  • Speeding

    Excessive speed is a factor in higher crash rates among 16-year-old drivers.
  • Single-vehicle crashes

    More fatal crashes of teenage drivers involve only the teen's vehicle. Typically, these involve high speed and/or driver error.
  • Passengers

    Fatal crashes among teens are more likely to occur when other teenagers are in the car. The risk increases with every additional passenger. In 2003, 59 percent of teenage passenger deaths happened in vehicles driven by another teenager.
  • Alcohol

    Although this is a problem among drivers of all ages, it's actually less of a problem for drivers ages 16 and 17. In 2003, the estimated percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers of this age who had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 percent was 16 percent — down 60 percent since 1982.
  • Night driving

    This is a high-risk activity for beginners. Per mile driven, the crash rate for teenagers driving at night with passengers is 4 to 5 times more likely than teenagers who drive alone during the day. (Source: National Safety Council, 2005)
  • Low seat belt use

    Teenagers generally are less likely to use safety belts than adults. In 2003, 57 percent of 16- to 20-year-old passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes were not wearing safety belts. (Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2005)

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