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Teenage Driver Car Accident Statistics & Safety Facts

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Everything You Need to Know About Teenage Driver Motor Vehicle Crashes

Everything You Need to Know About Teenage Driver Motor Vehicle Crashes

Jul 14, 2021

There are a lot of teenage drivers on our nation’s roads and highways. A report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirms that young drivers – a person 15 to 20 years old – account for approximately 5.3% of all licenses. That equates to roughly 12 million young drivers on the road, and that number is anticipated to grow. As AAA of Southern California reports, more teens are obtaining a license before age 18 – over 60% in 2019, representing an 11% increase since 2012.

With so many teenage and young drivers on the road, the potential for car accidents is increased significantly. As the AAA Foundation reports, drivers ages 16-17 continue to have the highest rates of crash involvement, injuries to themselves and others, and deaths of others in crashes in which they are involved (conversely, drivers ages 60-69 were the safest drivers by most measures examined).

Below we’ll look at some important teenage driver statistics and provide information on how to file a claim for financial compensation in the unfortunate event of a car accident injury.

How Many Teenagers are Injured or Killed in Car Accidents Each Year?

How Many Teenagers are Injured or Killed in Car Accidents Each Year?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that almost 2,400 teens in the United States aged 13-19 were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2019, while about 258,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in such collisions. Those statistics mean that every day, about seven teens aged 13-19 died as a result of motor vehicle crashes (and hundreds more were injured).

Furthermore, the cost of motor vehicle crash deaths among teens 15-19 years of age is staggering. About $4.8 billion in medical and work loss costs were recorded for teenage driver crashes that occurred in 2018, according to the CDC.

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The CDC also confirms the following important teenage driver statistics:

  • In 2019, the motor vehicle death rate for male drivers aged 16-19 was over two times higher than the death rate for female drivers of the same age.
  • The presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers, and that risk increases with each additional teen passenger in the vehicle.
  • Crash risk is particularly high during the first months of licensure (data from the 2016-2017 National Household Travel Survey indicates that the crash rate per mile driven is about 1.5 times as higher for 16-year-olds as it is for 18-19-year-olds).

Some additional teenage driver statistics provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) include:

  • 52% of motor vehicle crash deaths among teenagers in 2019 occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
  • Teenage motor vehicle crash deaths in 2019 occurred most frequently from 9 p.m. to midnight (18%), followed closely by the time between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., and between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. (both 15%).
  • Young drivers are less likely than adults to drive after drinking alcohol, but their crash risk is substantially higher when they do.

What Percentage of Car Accidents are Caused by Teenage Drivers?

The IIHS reports that in 2019, teenagers accounted for 7% of total motor vehicle crash deaths, and about two out of every three teenagers killed in crashes were males. However, since 1975, teenage crash deaths have actually decreased more among males (76%) than among females (64%).

What is the Leading Cause of Car Accidents for Teenage Drivers?

The CDC identified eight ‘danger zones’ representing the leading causes of teenage driver crashes and injuries. Those danger zones include:

  1. Driver inexperience
  2. Driving with teen passengers
  3. Nighttime driving
  4. Not using seat belts
  5. Distracted driving
  6. Drowsy driving
  7. Reckless driving
  8. Impaired driving

The CDC also identified six specific risk factors that can lead to motor vehicle crashes among teenage drivers. Those risk factors include inexperience, nighttime/weekend driving, not using seatbelts, distracted driving, speeding, and alcohol or drug use. Let’s look at those risk factors in more detail below.

1. Inexperience:

  • When compared to older drivers, teens are more likely to underestimate or not be able to recognize dangerous situations. Teens are also more likely than adults to make critical decision errors that can lead to serious motor vehicle crashes.

2. Nighttime and Weekend Driving:

  • In 2019, 40% of motor vehicle crash deaths among teenage drivers and passengers aged 13-19 occurred between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., while 52% occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

3. Not Using Seatbelts:

  • Compared with other age groups, teens and young adults often have the lowest seatbelt use rates. Results from the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) Controlled Intersection Study from 2016-2019 indicate that seatbelt use among teens and young adults 16-24 years of age was approximately 87% each year (whereas seatbelt use among adults 25 years of age or older was about 90% or higher for each year during the same period).
  • In 2019, 43.1% of U.S. high school students did not always wear a seatbelt when riding in a car driven by someone else.
  • Among teenage drivers and passengers 16-19 years of age who died in car crashes in 2019, almost half were unrestrained at the time of the crash (when restraint use was known).
  • At least 48% of teenage drivers and passengers aged 16-19 years who died in passenger vehicle crashes in 2019 were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash (and research indicates that seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half).
  • Some sources, such as Carsurance.net, report teenage seatbelt use is even lower – with only 65% of teens constantly wearing a restraint.

4. Distracted Driving:

  • Distraction negatively impacts the driving performance of anyone behind the wheel, but it can be particularly dangerous for young and inexperienced drivers.
  • Results from the 2019 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey revealed that, among U.S. high school students who drove, 39.0% texted or e-mailed while driving at least once during the 30 days before the survey.
  • Carsurance.net reports that 56% of teen drivers admit to talking on the phone while driving, and 32.8% of high school students have texted while driving.

5. Speeding:

  • Studies indicate that teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and allow shorter headways (the distance from the front of one vehicle to the front of the next).
  • In 2018, 30% of male drivers aged 15-20 years and 18% of female drivers aged 15-20 years who were involved in fatal crashes were speeding. These were the highest percentages by gender as compared with all other age groups.

6. Alcohol and Drug Use:

  • Drinking any amount of alcohol prior to driving significantly increases crash risk among teen drivers as compared with older drivers. Teen drivers have a much higher risk for being involved in a crash than older drivers at the same blood alcohol concentration (BAC), even at BAC levels below the legal limit for adults.
  • Results from the 2019 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey revealed the following:
    • Among U.S. high school students who drove, 5.4% drove when they had been drinking alcohol at least once during the 30 days before the survey.
    • Driving after drinking alcohol was higher among students who were older, male, Hispanic, or had lower grades.
    • 16.7% of U.S. high school students rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol at least once during the 30 days before the survey.
    • Students who engaged in any of the other transportation risk behaviors measured by the survey were approximately 3-13 times as likely to have also engaged in driving after drinking alcohol at least once during the 30 days before the survey.
  • Drinking alcohol is illegal for people less than 21 years of age, as is driving after drinking any amount of alcohol. Despite this, in 2018, 24% of drivers aged 15-20 who were killed in fatal motor vehicle crashes had been drinking.
  • In 2018, 15% of drivers aged 16-20 involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes had a BAC of 0.08% or higher – a level that is illegal for adults aged 21 or older in all U.S. states (except for Utah, where the BAC limit is 0.05%).
  • In 2018, 69% of drivers aged 15-20 who were killed in motor vehicle crashes after drinking and driving were not wearing a seat belt (based on known restraint use).
  • For young drivers involved in fatal crashes, alcohol involvement is typically higher among male drivers than among female drivers. In 2018, 21% of male drivers aged 15-20 years and 14% of female drivers aged 15-20 years involved in fatal crashes had been drinking prior to the crash.
  • In 2013, USA Today reported that nearly a quarter of teens – 23% – drive while impaired by either alcohol, marijuana, or prescription drugs.
    • Almost 20% of the 1,708 high school students surveyed said alcohol actually improved their driving skills.
    • 34% of those high school students said marijuana improved their driving skills.

Those last statistics are particularly troubling, as teenage drivers who fail to view driving under the influence as a danger can severely harm not only themselves but others on the road. As Cathy Chase of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety told USA Today, the percentage of teens who believe they can drive safely (or even safer) after drinking or using marijuana “seems high. But unfortunately, it’s not surprising because teens think they’re invincible and they think nothing will happen to them. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a friend or someone in their school getting killed before the reality kind of hits them.”

Which Age Group Has the Most Motor Vehicle Accidents?

Which Age Group Has the Most Motor Vehicle Accidents?

As the AAA Foundation reports, drivers ages 16-17 are known to have the highest rates of crash involvement. 16-17 year old drivers also have the highest rates of injuries to themselves and others, as well as deaths of others in motor vehicle crashes, making them the most dangerous overall age group for both car accident fatalities and injuries. In most studies, drivers ages 60-69 are known to be the safest on the road.

The table below, provided by the AAA Foundation, offers a snapshot of the number of motor vehicle crashes according to driver age.

Additional Teenage Motor Vehicle Crash Statistics

Carsurance.net offers some additional statistics that can be useful for improving the road safety for all drivers.

  • Teens are 10 times more likely to be in a fatal car accident than adults.
  • Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death among teenagers in the US.
  • Most of the fatal teen car accidents occur within six months of obtaining a license.
  • Two-thirds of teen passenger deaths occur with other teens behind the wheel.
  • A third of all teen crashes occur at intersections.
  • Nearly one third (31%) of fatal teen car accidents are caused by speeding.
  • 8% of all road casualties are young drivers 15 to 20 years old.
  • 60% of teenage car accident fatalities were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.

As texting while driving is exceedingly dangerous and leads to an inordinately high number of car accident injuries and fatalities, let’s review some specific statistics related to this issue.

  • Overall, texting and driving leads to 1.6 million car accidents every year.
  • When compared to drinking, texting is six times more likely to cause an accident.
  • 56% of teenage drivers admit to talking on the phone while driving.
  • 32.8% of high school students in the U.S. have texted while driving.
  • 48% of individuals aged 12-17 have been in a car when the driver was texting.

Recovering Financial Compensation After a Car Accident

When you’re injured in a car accident, the at-fault driver should be responsible for covering any resulting losses, such as hospital or medical bills, physical therapy expenses, emotional or psychological trauma, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and more.

The best way to ensure that you recover all appliable losses after a car accident – including any future medical care that may be required – is by filing a personal injury civil lawsuit with Dordulian Law Group (DLG). We’ll fight to recover every cent you’re owed after a car accident injury, helping you make a complete recovery – physically, emotionally, and financially.

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Contact us today online or by phone at 818-322-4056 for a free consultation and to learn more about all the added advantages available when you choose DLG to handle your car accident claim. We provide unparalleled service to each and every client, offering a level of personalized attention and dedication that gives you peace of mind knowing that your car accident claim is in good hands, and you’ll never be forced to accept a lowball offer (like with other settlement mill firms) that will not cover losses like future medical care, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and more.

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