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Teen driving statistics

Over 3,000 teens are at the wheel during deadly crashes each year — is it getting better or worse?

Teens’ raw driving skills can lead to more car accidents and injuries than experienced drivers, but are teen car crashes on the rise? We dove into data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to find the story behind car crashes with 15- to 19-year-olds at the wheel.

How many teen drivers get in car accidents?

In 2019, teen drivers were at the wheel during 302,554 accidents that caused only injuries, according to the NHTSA’s Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool.

When looking at accidents with only property damage, teens were driving during 762,694 of these.

These teen driving accidents accounted for about 8.5% of all injury-only accidents and nearly 9% of property damage-only accidents that year.

Deadly accidents with teen drivers

Nearly 3,100 deadly car accidents happened in 2019 with teenagers behind the wheel. These teen driving accidents stick close to the average of 3,161 deadly crashes for the previous 10 years.

Are teen driving accidents increasing?

Total teen driving accidents are rising, but thankfully that’s not true for fatal accidents involving teens behind the wheel.

In 2019, teen drivers were involved in over 9,800 more injury-only crashes and 15,000 more property-damage-only accidents than average. However, there were 172 fewer fatal car accidents than average.

We compared the NHTSA’s teen driving data from 2019 with the average number of accidents from 2010 to 2019.

Teen drivers involved in car accidents

Type of crash# teen crashes in 2019Average of teen crashes from 2010 to 2019
Fatal2,9893,160.80
Injury only302,554292,692.80
Property damage only762,694747,661.50

Top 4 causes of deadly teen car accidents

Speeding is one of the biggest factors in fatal crashes involving teen drivers. About 815 teen drivers were speeding at the time of a fatal crash in 2019.

Drinking and driving is a close second factor, with nearly 800 teens having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.01 or higher. Other top factors include distracted driving and being ejected from the car, which suggests the teen wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.

These numbers reflect fatal accidents with teens driving, but they don’t necessarily mean that the teen driver died in that accident.

Factors leading to deadly accidents with teen drivers

Factors# of deadly crashes with teens driving
Speeding815
BAC 0.01+797
Ejected from car312
Distracted driving273

What’s the worst time for teens to drive?

By far, evening hours from 5 p.m. to midnight are the worst times for teen car accidents.

Teen drivers are involved in 1,229 fatal car accidents between these hours, over double the crashes occurring between 5 a.m. and noon.

Also, weekends from Friday through Sunday show the most accidents with 1,506 deadly crashes. Though this number is close compared to weekdays, the weekend is a deadlier time to drive given the fewer number of days.

Worst times for teens to drive

Time/Day of week# of deadly crashes with teens driving
Weekend: Friday to Sunday1,506
Weekday: Monday to Thursday1,483
Evening drives: 5 p.m. to midnight1,229
Morning drives: 5 a.m. to noon581

Distracted driving factors into deadly teen accidents

About 273 deadly accidents with teen drivers involve distracted driving, which includes teens texting and driving. While not the biggest factor, distracted driving still accounts for 9% of fatal crashes with teens at the helm.

Distracted driving is any action that takes your attention away from driving, according to the NHTSA. That includes texting or calling, eating, talking to passengers or adjusting the stereo.

4 tips to keep teen drivers safe on the road

Give your teen the driving experience they need, and set teen drivers up for success with a few roadworthy tips.

  • Pencil in practice sessions. Review your state’s requirements for driving hours, and schedule times to let teens with a learner’s permit practice their driving. Once they’ve mastered the basics, you might let them take the wheel when you’re running errands, coaching along the way.
  • Avoid nighttime driving. Since most teen car accidents happen in the evening, you could reserve practice sessions for the mornings or right after school.
  • Limit driving with teen friends. Teens may show off for or talk with friends, so letting other teens in the car can distract your child. Avoid this situation to keep your teen focused.
  • Keep an adult in the car. An adult can guide your teen to make solid driving choices, like obeying signals and signage.

How do teen drivers affect car insurance?

Since teens get in more car accidents than older experienced drivers, expect steep car insurance premiums when your teen gets their license.

A standalone policy for teens can cost $325 a month or $3,900 per year, compared to the average driver’s $1,300 a year for car insurance. However, you can lower this sky-high premium by:

  • Adding your teen to your car insurance policy. Adding them to your policy rather than giving them their own will save you some cash.
  • Having young drivers take a safe driving course. Land a 5% to 10% car insurance discount after successfully completing a driver’s safety course.
  • Taking advantage of student discounts. If your teen’s grades stay at a B average or higher, it could lower car insurance rates up to 35%.
  • Trying a telematics car insurance policy. Track your teen’s driving to customize the insurance rate based on their skills, rather than focusing on their inexperience.

How we found these teen driving stats

To find these statistics, we looked up data for 15- to 19-year-old drivers using the NHTSA’s Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool.

We followed these steps to compare teen car accidents, both fatal and nonfatal:

  • Pulled data for fatal, injury-only and property damage-only crashes for 2019
  • Compared 2019 data to fatal, injury-only and property damage-only crashes across 10 years — 2010 to 2019
  • Compared with total crashes across all ages in 2019
  • Compared factors that happen during teen crashes, like speeding and drunk driving
  • Compared different times of day and days of the week

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