Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury and death for young adults in the United States. According to the most recent teen driver safety statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1,885 young drivers (ages 15-20) died in traffic crashes in 2020, a 17% increase from 1,616 in 2019.
Most teen crashes can be prevented with plenty of quality parent supervised driving practice to help teenagers gain experience in a variety of driving environments and to develop the critical driving skills they need. Most teen driver crashes are due to three “critical errors:” lack of scanning, speeding, and distractions.
Teenage driving statistics also show that teens are also more likely to crash if impaired, using a cell phone, or with peer passengers. Parents can help teens manage these crash risks by setting and enforcing house rules to keep them safe. These rules should include seat belt use on every ride, every time, and limiting nighttime driving and peer passengers until the first full year of independent driving.
Sharing teen driver statistics and proven ways to prevent crashes will help keep your family safe. Insist on safe driving behaviors and promote their use with house driving rules and plenty of communication.
After reviewing these teenage driving statistics with your teen, watch this video to improve communication with your teen:
In 2020, 1,885 young drivers (ages 15-20) died in traffic crashes, a 17% increase from 1,616 in 2019; More than half (52%) were not wearing a seat belt.
More Teen Driver Facts and Teenage Driving Statistics
- In 2020, 29% of young drivers (ages 15-20) involved in fatal crashes had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of .01 g/dL or higher; 82% of those young drivers had BACs of .08 g/dL or higher.
- Fatalities among passengers of young drivers (ages 15-20) increased by 22% from 2019 to 2020.
- On average, a pedestrian was killed every 81 minutes and injured every 10 minutes in traffic crashes in 2020.
- In 2020, 7% of drivers ages 15-20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted, the largest proportion for any age group.
- In 2019, 43% of high school students nationwide reported not always wearing a seat during the past month.
- The majority of newly licensed teen drivers exit the learner’s permit period with significant skill deficits, leading to a much higher risk of crashing as compared with more experienced drivers. The most common types of crashes involve left turns, rear-end events, and running off the road.
- Over 60% of pediatric spinal fractures occur in children ages 15-17, coinciding with the beginning of legal driving. Motor vehicle crashes (MVCs) are the most common cause, and nearly two-thirds of pediatric spinal fractures sustained in MVCs occurred when seat belts were not used.
- The overwhelming majority (75%) 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.