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Basic Facts About Teen Crashes

General Statistics on Teen Crashes

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. In 2013, 2,163 teens in the United States ages 16-19 were killed and 243,243 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes. That means six teens ages 16-19 died every day as a result of motor vehicle crashes. 1
  • The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16-19-year-olds than among any other age group. In fact, per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.
  • 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
  • The majority of newly licensed teen drivers exit the learner period with significant skill deficits, leading to a much higher risk of crashing compared with more experienced drivers. The most common types of crashes involve left turns, rear-end events, and running off the road. 4 
  • Distraction was a key factor in 58 percent of crashes involving drivers ages 16 to 19, according to an analysis of video footage of 1,691 moderate-to-severe crashes 6 seconds before they occurred.5
  • Head trauma affects millions of Americans each year and has significant morbidity and economic costs to society. In 2011, traffic-related head trauma accounted for an estimated 1.82 million visits to Emergency Departments.6




  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [Online]. (2013). National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  2. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Fatality Facts: Teenagers 2013. Arlington (VA): The Institute; 2013.
  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. McDonald CC, Kandadai V, Sommers MS, Winston FK. Comparison of Teen and Adult Driver Crash Scenarios in a Nationally Representative Sample of Serious Crashes. Accident Analysis and Prevention. 2014; Volume 72, November 2014:302-308.
  5. Carney C, McGehee D, Harland H, Weiss M, and Raby M. Using Naturalistic Driving Data to Assess the Prevalence of Environment Factors and Driver Behaviors in Teen Driver Crashes. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. March 2015.
  6. Gaw CE, Zonfrillo MR. Emergency Department Visits for Head Trauma in the United States. BMC Emerg Med. 2016;16(1).

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