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Facts About Teen Drivers

Knowing the facts about teen drivers will help you support your child in the learning-to-drive process and beyond. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle crashes remain the number one cause of death for teens. In 2013, nearly 4,000 drivers ages 15 to 20 were involved in fatal crashes. In 2012, 55 percent of teens that died in crashes were not wearing a seat belt.

Dire facts about teen drivers go beyond drinking while behind the wheel. Talking or texting on a cell phone while driving and peer passengers are deadly distractions. However, critical driver errors due to inexperience also contribute significantly to crashes. For this reason, parents should focus not only on reducing their new teen driver's exposure to risky driving conditions, but also on teaching higher order driving skills along with the basic mechanics of driving.

As a parent or trusted adult, you have the power to help your teen become a safe driver and responsible passenger. In fact, teens who say their parents set rules and monitor their activities in a helpful, supportive way are half as likely to crash and 70 percent less likely to drive intoxicated than teens who describe their parents as less involved. 

By learning the facts about teen drivers, you will be able to keep the lines of communication open to limit exposure to these risk factors and other dangers, as well as to provide guidance in setting rules and noticing and enforcing positive driving behaviors. Teens may crave the independence that comes with getting their license, but it doesn’t mean they don’t want you along for the ride. In a national survey we conducted with thousands of high school students, the majority told us their parents influence their driving behavior more than anyone else. 

These facts about teen drivers will guide you:

  • Most teen crashes involve “rookie” mistakes. Teens need time to gain driving experience under varying road conditions. What you can do.
  • Many parents and teens fail to adequately practice higher order skills that help teens avoid crashes. What you can do.
  • Parents play a crucial role in teen driving safety, including peer pressure. They can help teens avoid unsafe situations and know what steps to take to stay safe. What you can do.
  • According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), two-thirds of teens killed in crashes were not wearing seat belts. What you can do.  
  • Two or more peer passengers more than triples the risk of a fatal crash when a teen is behind the wheel. What you can do.
  • According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), crash risk is four times higher when a driver uses a cell phone, whether or not it's hands-free. What you can do.
  • The effects of being awake for 18 hours are similar to having a a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08, which is legally drunk. What you can do.
  • Although teens are actually less likely than adults to get behind the wheel after drinking, their risk of crashing is far greater, even with low to moderate blood alcohol content (BAC) levels. What you can do.
  • Speed is a major factor in teen crash fatalities. What you can do.



Mother and daughter discuss the facts about teen driving

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