Growing Pains: 60+ Teen Driving Statistics To Slow You Down (2021-2022)

Acquiring a driving license is a significant moment in any teens’ life – it opens up a new world to explore. It’s a step towards independence and maturity.

But much like the road of life, there are a few twists and turns on our local highways.

And teens, bombarded by hormones and with their limited life experience, are immature by definition. This makes early driving days particularly fraught with danger.

The United States has some of the lowest driving age limits in the world, and with provisional licenses available in some states at just 14, that means a lot of teens on our roads.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are around 12 million teens on our roads – making up around 5.2% of all drivers. And whilst getting into trouble is a part of growing up, getting into trouble on the road can be fatal.

Driving is a milestone for any teens, and one which they work hard to earn. But with great power comes great responsibility. Teen driving is a dangerous game, as alcohol, peer pressure and the distractions of modern technology compound. Let’s take a deep dive into teen driving facts and statistics to uncover the risks.

Key Insights: Teen Driving Statistics & Facts

In a hurry? Here are the quick figures:

  • An estimated 2,400 teens were killed in fatal car accidents in 2019.
  • Over half (52%) of teen accidents occur between Friday and Sunday.
  • 258,000 teens required hospitalization after car accidents.
  • Alcohol is involved in almost one in six fatal crashes with teen drivers.
  • 31% of fatal teen accidents are caused by speeding.
  • 60% of fatalities in teen car crashes weren’t wearing a seatbelt.

Oh, to be young again. To see the road of life stretching out before is, with its twists and turns, its unknown branches.

Teen Driving Statistics (2021-2022)

Teens make up around one driver in 20 and account for 7% of accidents. Understanding the risks of teen driving can help us to tackle teen driving deaths and keep the leaders of tomorrow safe today.

Coming of Age: Teen Driving Laws Across America

The teenage years are full of milestones, from the sweet sixteen to the big one-eight. And somewhere along the way, American teens pick up a driving license and hit the road. But this milestone doesn’t come around at the same time for everyone. Let’s take a look at the minimum driving age across the US of A.

Teen Driving Laws Across America
  1. The minimum age you can obtain a full license anywhere in America is 16.
  2. In North and South Dakota and Montana, you can get a full license at 16 and hit the road.
  3. In Texas, Connecticut, Illinois, and more, you have to be 18 for your full license.
  4. Further states strike a balance: in California, the full license is available at 17.
  5. In every state, a learner’s permit is available before you come of age.
  6. In Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, and the Dakotas, you can get behind the wheel at 14.
  7. But New Yorkers will be waiting until their Sweet Sixteen for that sweet learners permit.
  8. Teens can’t rent a car anywhere: the minimum age for a rental is 20 or 21 across the states. So get saving, kids.
  9. Hardship licenses extend licenses to 14 and 15-year-olds where they wouldn’t otherwise be granted.
  10. These are available where special circumstances justify a teen driving.
  11. In New Hampshire and Massachusetts, a hardship license is known as a Cinderella License. Get that license and go to the ball!
  12. Learners permits, aka provisional licenses, often come with restrictions on what the holder can do.
  13. In California, teen drivers aren’t permitted to transport passengers under 20 for 12 months unless they’re family members.
  14. In North Carolina, teens are restricted from driving between 9 pm and 5 am until they have held a license for six months. Early to bed!
  15. Michigan has three levels of license with varying restrictions, the first two must be held for six months before the learner can graduate to a full license.

Teen Driving: Death And Accident Statistics

Teen driving isn’t all fun and games. According to the World Health Organization, car accidents are the number one cause of death for teens. Here are some harsh statistics to help you grow up.

Teen Death and Accident Statistics
  1. Car crashes are the number one cause of death for American teens.
  2. Teens are more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash than adults by a factor of 10.
  3. Two out of three teen deaths occur when another teenager is driving.
  4. In 2019, an estimated 2,400 teens were killed in fatal car accidents.
  5. In 2017, the number was 2,526. Let’s hope it keeps falling.
  6. 60% of teen car fatalities weren’t wearing a seatbelt.
  7. And an estimated 74,000 teens are injured or killed in car accidents because they didn’t wear a seatbelt. Strap in.
  8. Teen car deaths are falling. Since 1975, male car deaths are down 72%, and female teen car deaths are down 58%.
  9. In Pennsylvania, almost one in 20 teens will be involved in an accident: in 2016, in the space of twelve months, 4.4% of 17-year-olds and 4.7% of 18-year-olds crashed.

Fatal Crashes Involving Teen Drivers, 2009–2019

Teens are disproportionately involved in fatal crashes. Here are the fatal; accident statistics for teen drivers. Although deaths are down compared to 2009, they’ve been rising year on year since 2014, a dangerous trend.

YearYoung drivers age (15-20)Passengers of young driversOccupants of other vehiclesNonoccupantsTotal
20101965133312504935041
20111993119411224734782
20121880106012305024672
20131696106911334694367
20141723101510934544285
2015190398213265334744
20161916103313485984895
2017184498613965744800
2018172991913185624528
2019160388013675064356

Source: NHTSA

Peer Pressure: The Teen Driving Risk Factors

The teenage years are a perilous time. From first loves to college applications, there’s a lot to navigate. And for some teens, there’s an increased risk of a fatal car accident. 16-year-old boys, take note.

Teen Driving Risk Factors
  1. And 16 to 17-year-olds are more likely to crash than 18 to 19-year-olds by a factor of two.
  2. Male teens are twice as likely to die in a car accident compared to women: 66% of teen car accident fatalities are men.
  3. 52% of teen accidents occur between Friday and Sunday. Weekend warriors.
  4. And 31% of teen accidents happen between 6 pm and 9 pm. School’s out!
  5. 90% of teens involved in fatal accidents had teen passengers at the time. Distraction can kill.
  6. Speeding factors in 31% of teen deaths in motor vehicle accidents.
  7. One in three teen car accidents occurs at an intersection.

Straight Edge: Teen Drinking And Driving Statistics

Although teens shouldn’t be getting their hands on alcohol, many do. While this can often be harmless fun when a vehicle is involved things take a turn for the risky. Here are some teen drink driving statistics to sober you up.

Teen Drinking and Driving Statistics
  1. After speeding, alcohol is the second most common cause of fatal teen accidents.
  2. 25% of teen vehicle deaths occur when alcohol is present.
  3. Again, men have a higher risk factor: 27% of teen drivers killed in car accidents were drunk.
  4. For young women, 15% killed while driving were drunk.
  5. 5.8% of 16 to 17-year-olds have driven a vehicle while under the influence.
  6. That leaps in 18 to 20-year-olds to a shocking 15.1%. Almost one in six.
  7. And over 8% of high-school-age drivers admit to driving after drinking.
  8. More than one in five teens (22%) have been the passenger of a drunk driver.

Percent of Fatal Accidents Caused By Alcohol, 2010 And 2019

Even though teens are prohibited from drinking alcohol, they still find ways to get their hands on it. And too often, inebriated teens find themselves behind the wheel. Whilst 21 to 24-year-olds account for the majority of alcohol-related fatal accidents, almost one in six teens involved in a fatal crash are impaired by alcohol.

Age20102019Point change
16 to 2018%15%-3
21 to 2434%27%-7
25 to 3430%25%-5
35 to 4425%22%-3
45 to 5421%18%-3
55 to 6414%15%1
65 to 748%10%2
Over 744%6%2

Source: NHTSA

A Digital Generation: Teen Texting And Driving Statistics

The teenage brain is one of the most hectic places on the planet. Under siege by hormones, teens often find it hard to focus at the best of times. But the road demands single-minded attention – and getting distracted while driving leads teens down a dead-end road.

Teen Texting and Driving Statistics
  1. Teenagers average a five-minute response time for text messages.
  2. So it’s no surprise that almost a third of teens (32.8%) admit to texting and driving.
  3. In 2017, almost one in ten (9%) teenage car accidents were caused by distracted driving.
  4. Young drivers make up 12% of fatalities of distracted driving: disproportionately dying.
  5. More than half of teens talk on a cell phone while operating a vehicle.
  6. And 48% of teens have been the passenger of a texting driver.
  7. Teens whose parents text and drive are twice as likely to take up this practice. This shows the importance of a good example.
  8. Talking on a cell phone doubles a teen’s chances of getting into an accident.

Liabilities: Teen Insurance Rates Statistics

Insurance companies base their rates on a calculation of risk, and the teenage driving statistics speak for themselves. Due to a higher likelihood of accidents, teen drivers can expect to pay through the nose for car insurance.

Teen Insurance Rate Statistics
  1. 16 to 19-year-olds were responsible for 8.4% of motor vehicle injury costs in 2016. Teens make up 6.4% of road users.
  2. That’s an estimated $13.6 billion in damages.
  3. The average cost for insuring a 20-year old driver 2ith full coverage is $3,331.
  4. That’s more than double the cost for a 40-year-old with a clean record.
  5. And the average cost for minimum coverage is $1,198.
  6. Teens can save thousands by joining their parents’ insurance.
  7. The cost of insuring a 16-year-old on a parents’ policy ranges between $2,210 and $3,840 for 12 months.
  8. Independent insurance for a 16-year-old male can stretch to $5,600 annually based on two six-month policies.

Conclusion

Getting into trouble is a part of growing up. Teenagers have a right to make mistakes – and as they do, they’ll learn and grow into responsible adults.

But some mistakes can be fatal. Whether it’s speeding, forgetting your seatbelt, or getting into the car as a passenger of a drunk driver, these are mistakes you can only make once.

Car accidents are the number one cause of death for teens in America – and whilst that’s largely down to the low-risk factors for teens to die in other ways, it’s still a shocking statistic.

But the numbers don’t lie. Driving is an exciting journey for young people to embark on, but it’s also fraught with risks. Identifying these risks is the first step towards staying safe.

Through education and understanding, we can protect the next generation. Information puts young people in the driving seat of their lives. Just remember to wear a seatbelt, kids.

Need To Know: The Teen Driving FAQ

Our kids are learning every day. And here’s the answer to all your pressing teen driving questions – strap yourself in.

How Many Teens Die Each Year In Car Accidents?

Car accidents are the number one cause of death for American teens – a shocking statistic. But for a demographic not susceptible to death from disease or plain old age, it makes sense for accidents to be a major killer.

So how many teens are dying each year from car accidents? Statistics from 2019 revealed that 2,400 teens were killed in fatal car accidents.

What Causes Teenage Car Accidents?

The teenage brain isn’t yet fully developed. High speed vehicles and teenage hormones make for a dangerous mix – but there are some things that compound this combination, making teenage car accidents more likely.

Speeding is a factor in 31% of teenage car accidents, making it the primary cause of teen car accidents.

Drinking, which accounts for 25% of teen vehicle deaths, is the second most prevalent factor in teenage car accidents.

And distracted driving – whether texting, calling or arguing with teenage passengers – causes a further 9% of teenage crashes. That’s a grand total of 65% of teenage accidents that we can avoid through safer driving strategies.

Besides these high-risk accident factors, there are a number of common driving manoeuvres that cause teenage accidents. Where alcohol, speeding and distracted driving weren’t a factor, teen car accidents were likely to occur from:

Left-hand turns
Rear-endings
Running off the carriageway

How Can We Prevent Teen Car Deaths

60% of teen car fatalities weren’t wearing a seatbelt. Educating our youths about the effectiveness of seatbelts at preventing deaths could save almost 1500 lives each year.

Teaching our teens about the risk factors of teenage driving is vital to reducing and preventing teen deaths. A third of teens admit to texting and driving, whilst almost half have been the passenger of a distracted driver: we need to start changing the culture around distracted driving. Teens whose parents text and drive are twice as likely to follow suit – so setting a good example to our youth is essential.


Sources:

  • Facts + Statistics: Teen drivers. Retrieved from III
  • Teenage Driver Car Accident Statistics & Safety Facts. Retrieved from DLawGroup
  • The Ultimate List of Driving Statistics for 2021. Retrieved from Driving Tests
  • Teen Driving Statistics. Retrieved from RMIIA
  • Teen Drivers: Get the Facts. Retrieved from CDC
  • Driver’s licenses in the United States. Retrieved from Wikipedia
  • Road Accidents Biggest Global Killer of Teenagers. Retrieved from BBC

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Robert Muñoz

I’m Robert, a US-based auto electrician, auto mechanic, trained engineer and fanatic about all things motor vehicle. After studying engineering in college I returned to my original passion - car mechanics - and I ran a garage for a number of years serving my local community. Through my garage, I got involved in numerous road safety campaigns in my local area until eventually, I decided to share what I've learned with the world. Know more about me... You can follow me on LinkedIn.

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