Facts + Statistics: Teen drivers

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s Teen Driver Fact Sheet, motor vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of death among teens. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Young Drivers Traffic Safety Facts data shows that 1,885 drivers aged 15 to 20 died in traffic crashes in 2020, an increase of 17 percent from 1,616 in 2019. Young drivers, while only 5.1 percent of all licensed drivers in 2020, accounted for 8.5 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IHHS), graduated licensing systems in U.S. states and Canadian provinces have reduced crashes substantially. Two national studies by the IIHS  and the Highway Loss Data Institute found that strong restrictions on nighttime driving and teenage passengers, and delaying licensing age, reduce fatal crashes and insurance losses for teenage drivers. In addition, the studies found that delaying permit age reduces fatal crashes and that increasing practice hours reduces insurance losses.

Fatalities in Crashes Involving Young Drivers, 2010-2019

 

Year Young drivers
age 15–20
Passengers of
young drivers
Occupants of
other vehicles
Nonoccupants Total
2010 1,965 1,333 1,250 493 5,041
2011 1,993 1,194 1,122 473 4,782
2012 1,880 1,060 1,230 502 4,672
2013 1,696 1,069 1,133 469 4,367
2014 1,723 1,015 1,093 454 4,285
2015 1,903 982 1,326 533 4,744
2016 1,916 1,033 1,348 598 4,895
2017 1,844 986 1,396 574 4,800
2018 1,729 919 1,318 562 4,528
2019 1,603 880 1,367 506 4,356

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

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Drivers In Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes By Age, 2020

 

  Licensed drivers Drivers in fatal
crashes
Age group Number Percent of
total drivers
Number Involvement
rate (1)
16 to 20 11,526,490 5.1% 4,440 38.52
21 to 24 14,041,261 6.2 4,884 34.78
25 to 34 39,900,499 17.6 11,933 29.91
35 to 44 38,208,444 16.6 8,896 23.28
45 to 54 37,372,539 16.7 7,731 20.69
55 to 64 39,417,228 17.4 7,294 18.5
65 to 74 29,871,852 12.7 4,116 13.78
Over 74 17,795,854 7.6 2,810 15.79
Total 228,195,802 100.0% 53,890 (2) 23.62

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

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

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Percent Of Drivers Involved In Fatal Crashes Impaired By Alcohol By Age, 2011 And 2020 (1)

 

Age   2011 2022 Point change
16 to 20   20% 17% -3 pts.
21 to 24   32 26 -6
25 to 34   30 26 -4
35 to 44   24 23 -1
45 to 54   21 19 -2
55 to 64   14 16 2
65 to 74   8 12 4
Over 74   5 7 2

(1) Alcohol-impaired driving crashes are crashes that involve at least one driver or a motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 grams per deciliter or above, the legal definition of alcohol-impaired driving in most states.

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

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Background On: Teen drivers