Facts + Statistics: Teen drivers

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teens according to the Centers for Disease Control’s Teen Driver Fact Sheet. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1,908 drivers age 15 to 20 died in motor vehicle crashes in 2016, basically unchanged from 1,903 in 2015.

Drivers age 15 to 20 accounted for 9 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2016 and 12 percent of all drivers involved in police-reported crashes. In contrast, young drivers accounted for 5.4 percent of total drivers in the United States.

Twenty-four percent of drivers ages 15 to 20 who were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2016 had been drinking some amount of alcohol; 19 percent were alcohol-impaired, which is defined by a blood alcohol content of 0.08 grams per deciliter or higher. Almost half (47 percent) of the young drivers killed in crashes in 2016 where restraint use was known were unrestrained at the time of the crash

Teens also have a greater chance of getting involved in an accident if other teens are present in the vehicle, according to research from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm.

Drivers In Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes By Age, 2016

 

Age group Number of
licensed drivers
Percent of
total
Drivers in fatal
crashes
Involvement
rate (1)
16 to 20 12,002,717 5.4% 4,412 36.76
21 to 24 14,460,176 6.5 5,233 36.19
25 to 34 39,194,065 17.7 10,815 27.59
35 to 44 36,500,347 16.5 8,116 22.24
45 to 54 39,407,317 17.8 7,946 20.16
55 to 64 38,379,823 17.3 6,966 18.15
65 to 74 26,070,715 11.8 4,122 15.81
Over 74 15,633,421 7.1 2,971 19.00
Total 221,711,918 100.0% 51,914 (2) 23.42

(1) Per 100,000 licensed drivers.
(2) Includes drivers under the age of 16 and 1,071 drivers of unknown age.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Federal Highway Administration.

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Motor Vehicle Deaths Per 100,000 Persons By Age, 2016

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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Percent Of Alcohol-Impaired Drivers Involved In Fatal Crashes By Age, 2007 And 2016 (1)

Age 2007 2016 Point change
16 to 20 18% 15% -3 pts.
21 to 24 34 26 -8
25 to 34 29 27 -2
35 to 44 25 22 -3
45 to 54 20 19 -1
55 to 64 12 14 2
65 to 74 7 9 2
Over 74 4 5 1

(1) Alcohol-impaired driving crashes are crashes that involve at least one driver or a motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or above, the legal definition of alcohol-impaired driving.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Background On: Teen drivers