Night Driving Accident Statistics
Teens are far more likely to be in serious driving accidents at night, as night driving statistics show. Driving at night can be very different from driving during the day. At night, there is less time to see and react to road signs, upcoming curves, a car swerving into the driver’s lane, a kid crossing the street, or other things. That’s why slowing down and being more cautious are crucial.
Night driving increases crash risk for all drivers, but that risk is even higher for young inexperienced drivers. Only 14 percent of the miles driven by 16- to 17-year-old drivers occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., yet this time period accounts for 32 percent of fatal crashes in this age group.
Consider less obvious threats to inexperienced drivers that come from other road users who are more likely to be driving impaired by alcohol or drugs or driving drowsy after dark, according to nighttime driving statistics.
For teen drivers, state Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) provisions have worked effectively to reduce fatal crashes and can be used as a guide by families to set house rules that will keep new drivers safe. Besides sharing night driving crash statistics, here are some tips to help teens manage night driving risks after dark:
Get plenty of practice driving at night with an adult supervisor, before driving at night solo. Optimal GDL policy includes a requirement to complete 10 or more hours of supervised driving at night with a learner permit before getting licensed. This provides time for parents to coach their teens on how to adjust their driving for nighttime conditions and how to respond to the unique hazards of driving at night, such as an oncoming vehicle’s high beams.
Once licensed, initially limit nighttime driving to the hours before 9 p.m. Optimal GDL provisions limit newly licensed drivers from driving after 9 or 10 p.m. This is because the majority of fatal nighttime crashes for teens occur between 9 p.m. and midnight. This GDL restriction usually times out after about 6 to 12 months of independent driving when, hopefully, teen drivers have had sufficient time to practice driving at night in lower risk conditions.
Plan nighttime trips and routes in advance. Teens and their parents should consider the risk of the newly licensed driver operating a vehicle while drowsy late at night. A typical scenario could be driving home after a school event, such as a Friday night ballgame. After a full day of school and the excitement of an event, inexperienced drivers may have difficulty focusing on the extra challenge of driving at night. Before that long day begins, consider an alternative plan for getting home safely or plan a safe route on well-lit roads.
Approximately one-third (31 percent) of 16- and 17-year-old drivers in the U.S. involved in fatal crashes from 2009 to 2014 crashed between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Among these drivers, 57 percent -- or more than 1,000 youths -- crashed before midnight, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Night Driving Statistics