Improving Teen Driving Safety in the U.S.

Teen driving safety is a major concern for parents and society in general. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the U.S. In many cases, teen driving fatalities are caused by distracted driving practices—avoidable behaviors that increase the likelihood of a crash.

Teen Driving Safety Concerns in the U.S.

 A disproportionate percentage of auto crashes are attributable to teen driving. If you’ve ever wondered why teen driving safety is more of a concern than the safety of older drivers, consider a few statistics:

  • For every mile they drive, teenagers are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than drivers aged 20 and older.
  • Although people between the ages of 15 and 24 represent 14 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 30 percent of the total cost of auto-related injuries for males and 28 percent of the total cost of auto-related injuries for females.
  • Based on 2010 statistics, seven teenagers die from motor vehicle injuries every day in the U.S.

 Risk Factors in Teen Driving Safety

 In most cases, teenage drivers lack the experience and judgment of older drivers. In fact, some of the highest accident rates are reported by teens in the month following licensure.

However, experience isn’t the only cause for higher rates of injuries and fatalities in teen driving. Several other factors also play a role when it comes to teen driving safety, including:

  • Teen Passengers: When other teenagers are in the vehicle, without adult supervision teen drivers experience a significantly higher crash risk.
  • Speeding: Teens speed more often than older drivers. In 2010, 39 percent of teenage drivers involved in accidents were speeding at the time of the crash.
  • Teenage Driving Distractions: Distracted driving—including the use of cell phones for texting and other purposes—is a leading cause of accidents in teen driving. Drivers under the age of 20 have the highest percentage of fatalities caused by distracted driving.

How to Improve Teen Driving Safety

There are a number of things teens and older drivers can do to improve teen driving safety. Although laws that regulate the use of electronic devices and other distracted driving behaviors are important, education and involvement in safe driving campaigns are often the most effective tools for improving teen safety.

If you are a teen driver or have a teen driver in your family, start by educating yourself on Driving Tips to help prevent teenage driving distractions. By becoming better informed about the risks of distracted driving, you can increase your ability to spot potential distractions when teens are behind the wheel.

Also, by participating in Decide to Drive’s Social Chats, you can enter into online conversations about the risks teen drivers face as well as strategies and solutions designed to improve teen driving safety.