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Facts About Teen Driving

Teen driver crashes are a major public health crisis. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. Teen drivers (ages 16 to 19) are involved in fatal crashes at four times the rate of adult drivers (ages 25 to 69). Recent research found that teens make three critical errors due to inexperience that lead them to crash: lack of scanning to detect and respond to hazards, driving too fast for road conditions, and being distracted by something inside or outside the vehicle.

We are all having a "wake-up call." There's no such thing as "car accidents"—they're actually preventable crashes. Even better news is that involved parents can reduce a teen crash risk by half, a message you can bring to the parents you work with.

Here are some key statistics on issues that impact teen drivers to share with parents:

  • INEXPERIENCE - Although 60 percent of teens believe inexperience heavily influences safety, only 15 percent consider their peers to be inexperienced.
  • PASSENGERS - Only 10 percent of teens correctly view passengers as potentially hazardous. However, many more do acknowledge that certain passenger behaviors increase risk, such as "acting wild" (65 percent) or encouraging the driver to speed (62 percent).
  • CELL PHONES - While only 28 percent of teens correctly believe that talking on a cell phone while driving makes a major difference to driving safety, the overwhelming majority (79 percent) recognize text messaging while driving as a very dangerous behavior.
  • IMPAIRED DRIVING - 41 percent of teen drivers who died in crashes had a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit, and nearly a quarter of teen passengers admit to riding with someone who had been drinking. 
  • PARENTS MATTER - The majority of teens (87 percent) report having a parent involved in the learning-to-drive process. Also, teens who say their parents set rules and monitor their driving in a supportive way are half as likey to speed or crash as teens with less involved parents.


Learn more about teen driver research at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Information & Statistics

Further reading:

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