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Teen Crash Risks & Prevention
teen driving crash risk

Teen Driving Crash Risks

Understanding teen driving risks can help families navigate the learning-to-drive process and beyond. Teens exit the learner’s permit period of driving with significant skill deficits, leading to a much higher risk of crashing compared with more experienced drivers. Use this section of Teen Driver Source to increase your knowledge of facts and statistics about teen driver risks.

Teen car crashes are preventable. No one should accept that the greatest crash risk for teens occurs the first day they drive alone, no longer under the watchful eye of a parent or another trusted adult.

Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) provisions provide a supportive framework for teens to continue to learn and manage driving risks without the additional pressures and dangers associated with a full license.  

Parents can help manage driving risks by having their teens follow GDL laws and other traffic safety laws. Parents can also influence teen driving risks by staying involved and modeling safe driving behaviors.

Teens can help their friends stay safe by complying with GDL laws, minimizing distractions for the driver and insisting friends use seat belts on every trip. Teens that drive their friends take on a big responsibility and deserve respect for complying with GDL.

Statistics

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: lack of scanning that is needed to detect and respond to hazards, going too fast for road conditions, and being distracted by something inside or outside of the vehicle.

  • Most teen crashes are not caused by aggressive driving or thrill-seeking. Instead, they are more often caused by errors associated with inexperience.

  • Quality supervised driving practice matters. A randomized, controlled trial found that teens with families that followed the TeenDrivingPlan program were 65 percent less likely to make dangerous driving errors.

  • Novice teen drivers’ crash risk drops by more than two-thirds after the first 1,000 to 1,500 miles of independent driving.

  • The majority of fatigue-related crashes are caused by drivers under age 25 years.

  • Distracted driving, drowsy driving, and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs raise the risk of teen drivers crashing. Other behaviors, such as not wearing a seat belt or speeding, are known to increase the likelihood of injury or death if a crash occurs.

Pick Your Practice

With a couple of clicks, think about what skills you would like to practice first as a learner driver, and we’ll point you to videos and tips on how to practice them. Take this online driving quiz to Pick Your Practice!

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