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Basic Facts About Teen Crashes

General Statistics

  • Motor vehicle crashes remain the No. 1 cause of death for adolescents.1
  • The greatest lifetime chance of crashing occurs in the first 6 months after licensure.2
  • The overwhelming majority (75 percent) of serious teen driver crashes are due to "critical errors," with the three common errors accounting for nearly half of these crashes: 3
    • lack of scanning that is needed to detect and respond to hazards
    • going too fast for road conditions (e.g., driving too fast to respond to others or to successfully navigate a curve)
    • being distracted by something inside or outside of the vehicle
  • Environmental conditions such as poor weather, vehicle malfunction, or aggressive driving, or physical impairments such as drowsy driving are not primary factors in most crashes.3
  • The fatal crash rate for drivers ages 16 to 19, based on miles driven, is four times higher than for drivers ages 25 to 69.4
  • In 2008, a total of 3,118 teens ages 15 to 19 died as a driver or as a passenger of a teen driver. 4
  • Teen passengers and cell phones are two distractions proven to kill teens. 5
  • In 2010 , 11 percent of 15- to 19-year-old drivers that died in crashes were distracted while drivings. 6




  1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Traffic Safety Facts 2008: Young Drivers. Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Available at: Accessed April 7, 2010.
  2. Mayhew DR, Simpson HM, Pak A. Changes in Collision Rates Among Novice Drivers During the First Months of Driving. Accident Analysis and Prevention. September 2003.
  3. Curry AE, Hafetz J, Kallan MJ, Winston FK, Durbin DR. Prevalence of Teen Driver Errors Leading to Serious Motor Vehicle Crashes. Accident Analysis and Prevention. April 2011.
  4. Curry AE, et al. Miles to Go: Establishing Benchmarks for Teen Driver Safety. Published by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute and State Farm Insurance Companies®. 2011.
  5. Winston FK, et al. Eds. Driving Through the Eyes of Teens, A Closer Look. Published by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance Companies®. 2009.
  6. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Teens and Distracted Driving, 2010 Data. Available at: Accessed December 4, 2012.
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