Teenagers | 2007

In every motorized country teenage drivers represent a major hazard. Until the mid 1990s most US states allowed teens to get full-privilege licenses at an earlier age than in most other countries, and little driving experience typically was required prior to licensure. The result was greatly elevated crash risk among young drivers. As more and more states have adopted graduated licensing systems, which phase in full driving privileges, the crash problem has decreased 10-30 percent. Ulmer, R.G.; Preusser, D.F.; Williams, A.F.; Ferguson, S.A.; and Farmer, C.M. 2000. Effect of Florida's graduated licensing program on the crash rate of teenage drivers. Accident Analysis and Prevention 32:527-32. Shope, J.T.; Molnar, L.J.; Elliott, M.R.; and Waller, P.F. 2001. Graduated driver licensing in Michigan: early impact on motor vehicle crashes among 16-year-old drivers. Journal of the American Medical Association 286:1593-98. Foss, R.D.; Feaganes, J.R.; and Rodgman, E.A. 2001. Initial effects of graduated driver licensing on 16-year-old driver crashes in North Carolina. Journal of the American Medical Association 286:1588-92. Governor's Highway Safety Office. 2001. Review of Ohio's graduated driver license program. Columbus, OH: Ohio Department of Public Safety. Mayhew, D.R.; Simpson, H.M.; Des Groseilliers, M.; and Williams, A.F. 2001. Impact of the graduated driver licensing program in Nova Scotia. Journal of Crash Prevention and Injury Control 2:179-92. Zwicker, T.J.; Williams, A.F.; Chaudhary, N.K.; and Farmer, C.M. 2006. Evaluation of California's graduated licensing system. Arlington, VA: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Teenagers drive less than all but the oldest people, but their numbers of crashes and crash deaths are disproportionately high. Lyman, S.; Ferguson, S.A.; Braver, E.R.; and Williams, A.F. 2002. Older driver involvements in police reported crashes and fatal crashes: trends and projections. Injury Prevention 8:116-20. Based on crashes of all severities, the crash rate per mile driven for 16-19 year-olds is 4 times the risk for older drivers. Risk is highest at age 16. In fact, the crash rate per mile driven is twice as high for 16 year-olds as it is for 18-19 year-olds.

Crash rates for young drivers are high largely because of their immaturity combined with driving inexperience. The immaturity is apparent in young drivers' risky driving practices such as speeding and tailgating. At the same time, teenagers' lack of experience behind the wheel makes it difficult for them to recognize and respond to hazards. Fatal crashes involving young drivers typically are single-vehicle crashes and often involve driver error and/or speeding. They often occur when other young people are in the vehicle with the young driver, so teenagers are disproportionately involved in crashes as passengers as well as drivers. Chen, L-H.; Baker, S.P.; Braver, E.R.; and Li, G. 2000. Carrying passengers as a risk factor for crashes fatal to 16- and 17-yar-old drivers. Journal of the American Medical Association 283:1578-82.

The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

Overiew

A total of 4,946 teenagers ages 13-19 died in motor vehicle crashes in 2007. This is 43 percent fewer than in 1975, and 4 percent fewer than in 2006. About 2 out of every 3 teenagers killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2007 were males. Since 1975 teenage motor vehicle crash deaths have decreased more among males (50 percent) than among females (24 percent).

Teenage motor vehicle deaths by gender, 1975-2007

Motor vehicle crash deaths among 13-19 year-olds by gender, 1975-2007
YearMaleFemaleTotal*
Num%Num%Num
19756,532752,215258,748
19766,826732,530279,356
19776,983722,650289,633
19787,295732,645279,940
19797,280732,639279,920
19806,932732,591279,524
19816,014722,301288,315
19825,354731,969277,323
19834,850711,955296,805
19844,947712,005296,952
19854,715702,022306,737
19865,280712,182297,466
19875,107702,186307,293
19885,036702,204307,242
19894,528682,158326,688
19904,420691,944316,364
19913,891681,867325,760
19923,495671,713335,215
19933,678681,742325,421
19943,770671,859335,632
19953,702651,970355,675
19963,855661,963345,819
19973,715652,014355,730
19983,649651,960355,610
19993,745652,007355,752
20003,759661,925345,685
20013,735671,859335,594
20023,939662,015345,954
20033,772661,946345,718
20043,696651,948355,645
20053,496661,803345,300
20063,415661,744345,159
20073,258661,687344,946
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Teenagers accounted for 10 percent of the US population in 2007 and 12 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths. They comprised 14 percent of passenger vehicle (cars, pickups, SUVs, and vans) occupant deaths among all ages, 7 percent of pedestrian deaths, 5 percent of motorcyclist deaths, and 12 percent of bicyclist deaths.

US teenage and total population, 2007
Teen populationTotal population% Teens of total population
29,775,943301,621,15710
Teenage motor vehicle crash deaths as percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths, 2007
Death typeTeen motor vehicle deathsMotor vehicle deaths for all ages% Teen motor vehicle deaths
of all motor vehicle deaths
Passenger vehicle occupant4,14928,89614
Pedestrian3424,6547
Motorcyclist2285,0375
Bicyclist8769612
Other611,7763
Total4,94641,05912

Eighty-four percent of teenage motor vehicle crash deaths in 2007 were passenger vehicle occupants. The others were pedestrians (7 percent), motorcyclists (5 percent), bicyclists (2 percent), riders of all-terrain vehicles (2 percent), and people in other kinds of vehicles (1 percent).

Teenage motor vehicle crash deaths by type and age, 2007
AgePassenger vehicle occupantsMotorcyclistsPedestriansBicyclistsAll-terrain vehicle ridersOtherTotal motor vehicle deaths*
Num%Num%Num%Num%Num%Num%Num
1310262112716171011774165
141666913534141678342241
15268766248141659351352
166158710149711210191704
178658921256612116271977
181,104885647565<1811311,261
191,02983121105341011711611,246
Total4,14984228534278727926114,946
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

In 2005, the latest year for which data are available, motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death among 13-19 year-old males and females in the United States. Thirty-three percent of deaths among 13-19 year-olds occurred in motor vehicle crashes, 40 percent among females and 31 percent among males.

Leading causes of death among teenagers by gender, 2005
Cause of deathMaleFemaleTotal
Motor vehicles3,4521,8015,253
Homicide1,9153042,219
Suicide1,4453641,809
Malignant neoplasms576405981
Motor vehicle crash deaths as a percent of deaths from all causes by gender and age, 2005
AgeMaleFemaleTotal*
Motor vehicle deathsAll deaths%Motor vehicle deathsAll deaths%Motor vehicle deathsAll deaths%
<532518,783227014,413259633,1962
5- 93161,556202681,281215852,83721
10-121981,02219150735203481,75720
13-155012,303223291,219278313,52224
16-171,1653,379346951,487471,8604,86638
18-191,8305,479337791,844422,6097,32336
20-244,52615,623291,3754,908285,90120,53129
25-292,98214,242218955,326173,87819,56820
30-5913,310260,81055,111157,340318,421418,1504
60-692,169185,85311,145134,20613,314320,0591
≥ 703,025698,426<12,138917,527<15,1671,615,953<1
*Total includes other and/or unknowns
Note: Data on motor vehicle crashes come from FARS.
Data on other causes of death come from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Drivers and passengers in passenger vehicles

In 2007, 58 percent of deaths among passenger vehicle occupants ages 16-19 were drivers.

Passenger vehicle teenage occupant deaths by age and seating position, 2007
AgeDriverPassengerTotal*
Num%Num%Num
13339997102
1415915191166
15511921781268
162944832152615
174785538444865
1866861429391,104
1965964367361,029
Total2,168521,968474,149
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Sixty-one percent of teenage passenger deaths in 2007 occurred in vehicles driven by another teenager. Among deaths of passengers of all ages, 20 percent occurred when a teenager was driving.

Passenger vehicle passenger deaths by passenger age and driver age, 2007
Passenger ageDriver ageAll ages*
13-1920-2425-2930-5960-69≥ 70
Num%Num%Num%Num%Num%Num%Num
<1378914516172194655223361894
13-191,2006138119905264138<14<11,968
20-24207166605220616181143<1001,277
25-29436198292143121531413<1687
30-5999524412263121,3236212064022,120
60-69519212317942159376415430
≥ 701211511212742714214556551,014
All ages*1,649201,65920978122,91835462567588,439
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

In 2007, belt use among fatally injured drivers ages 16-19 (40 percent) was higher than among fatally injured drivers ages 20-29 (34 percent) but lower than among drivers 30 and older. Among fatally injured 16-19 year-old occupants, belt use among passengers (31 percent) was considerably lower than among drivers (40 percent). Note that belt use among those fatally injured is not always accurately recorded, but it gives an indication of relative belt use rates in serious crashes by age group.

Seat belt use among fatally injured passenger vehicle occupants by age and seating position, 2007
AgeDriversPassengers
Belt usedUnbeltedUnknownBelt usedUnbeltedUnknown
Num%Num%Num%Num%Num%Num%
131331331334040525377
1432012800052348959107
1516313263366028131602612
1613044141482381193717555278
1721545234492961223223461287
18270403425156812529258604611
192263436856651010428217594613
20-241,062341,820582438343277826115212
25-29734341,21757183916824449657010
30-593,640424,389516387777371,151541929
60-6991655646399962545914935276
≥ 701,637637903017677107026126434
Total*8,857439,999491,52573,388404,311517409
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Among passenger vehicle drivers ages 16-19 involved in fatal crashes in 2007, 48 percent were involved in single-vehicle crashes. This was similar to the proportion for drivers ages 20-24 (47 percent) but higher than for drivers ages 25 and older (37 percent).

Passenger vehicle drivers in fatal crashes by age and crash type, 2007
 Single vehicleMultiple vehicleAll crashes *
Num%Num%Num
16-192,357482,568524,927
20-243,202473,579536,782
25-292,100432,804574,907
30-597,4773812,2776219,771
60-691,036322,251683,288
≥ 701,098282,859723,961
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Population and mileage rates

From 1975 to 2007, the rate of deaths per 100,000 people declined by 43 percent for teenagers (from 29.4 to 16.6 per 100,000). In contrast, the death rate declined by 70 percent for people 12 and younger (from 7.9 to 2.4 per 100,000), 30 percent for people ages 20-69 (from 22.4 to 15.7 per 100,000), and 35 percent for people 70 and older (from 25.9 to 16.9 per 100,000).

Motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 people by age group, 1975-2007
 <1313-1920-69≥ 70
PopulationNumRatePopulationNumRatePopulationNumRatePopulationNumRate
197545,851,3043,6437.929,795,0238,74829.4125,762,92728,15422.414,563,9453,77525.9
197645,000,7043,4247.629,909,4149,35631.3128,164,92628,65422.414,960,1203,89626.0
197744,337,3323,3477.529,800,3139,63332.3130,700,53130,74723.515,401,2493,85925.1
197843,907,4673,3677.729,543,2529,94033.6133,257,28532,90624.715,876,5413,82424.1
197943,778,9593,1717.229,077,6079,92034.1135,810,30433,90725.016,388,6173,77223.0
198043,914,3423,0486.928,486,4879,52433.4137,925,91334,32924.916,897,9773,86122.8
198144,049,9402,7336.227,743,9478,31530.0140,349,00733,83724.117,322,7143,87122.3
198244,131,5962,5735.827,160,5867,32327.0142,588,42630,15021.117,783,8883,65520.6
198344,119,2972,5185.726,737,4976,80525.5144,701,35829,34120.318,233,7513,73420.5
198443,978,0442,4225.526,435,8856,95226.3146,747,91630,58520.818,662,9384,05221.7
198544,260,1362,4695.626,001,2476,73725.9148,589,56430,15720.319,072,7854,20622.1
198644,755,4542,5375.725,592,4817,46629.2150,321,42631,39520.919,463,4804,44522.8
198745,348,2472,6545.925,209,6157,29328.9151,840,34431,75020.919,890,8174,55522.9
198845,942,9662,7015.925,004,4457,24229.0153,249,14532,07120.920,302,2804,92524.3
198946,690,6042,6585.724,664,3006,68827.1154,744,81831,16320.120,719,3974,94323.9
199047,472,5272,3324.924,404,7956,36426.1156,422,79130,93419.821,164,2834,84422.9
199148,240,7472,2574.724,066,5875,76023.9158,093,86128,53618.121,751,8974,84322.3
199248,903,6682,1654.424,163,1755,21521.6159,641,63926,85916.822,321,2174,90122.0
199349,335,8642,1644.424,664,0915,42122.0160,981,98027,20416.922,800,6735,22122.9
199449,692,4622,3014.625,219,8385,63222.3162,170,87627,27116.823,243,8455,42523.3
199549,920,4842,2014.425,764,3005,67522.0163,424,73528,34817.323,693,7575,50923.3
199650,085,1882,1864.426,357,1985,81922.1164,729,86328,36517.224,056,3235,57823.2
199750,364,9832,1084.226,730,8125,73021.4166,278,99528,19417.024,408,8175,87224.1
199850,527,4762,0324.027,174,7285,61020.6167,752,24827,97016.724,793,5515,79823.4
199950,667,1391,9973.927,518,1565,75220.9169,412,71328,22416.725,092,8055,65722.5
200052,219,4231,8883.628,326,4125,68520.1176,086,44828,87416.425,559,8795,37921.0
200152,341,3951,7513.328,437,7115,59419.7178,525,50229,30916.425,797,4675,42521.0
200252,332,3061,6173.128,644,3135,95420.8180,959,27529,98316.626,005,3265,33220.5
200352,187,6021,6433.129,028,5005,71819.7183,371,92830,07016.426,200,9465,36320.5
200452,151,4061,6453.229,400,3925,64519.2185,766,08830,32716.326,337,5185,10619.4
200552,149,3951,5292.929,589,8545,30017.9188,012,48631,51416.826,658,6695,04718.9
200652,306,9081,4302.729,772,1985,15917.3190,434,58031,37516.526,884,7984,63617.2
200752,585,8091,2642.429,775,9434,94616.6192,123,88830,12315.727,135,5174,59816.9

The rate of deaths per 100,000 people in 2007 peaked at age 19 for male drivers (22.5 per 100,000) and at age 18 for male passengers (12.4 per 100,000). Death rates peaked at age 18 for female drivers (9.5 per 100,000) and at age 17 and 18 for female passengers (7.6 per 100,000).

Deaths in passenger vehicles per 100,000 people by seating position, age, and gender, 2007

Deaths in passenger vehicles per 100,000 people by seating position, age, and gender, 2007
AgeMaleFemaleTotal
PopulationDriver deathsPassenger deathsPopulationDriver deathsPassenger deathsPopulationDriver
deaths *
Passenger deaths *
NumRateNumRateNumRateNumRateNumRateNumRate
<1326,897,71440.04481.725,688,09500.04461.752,585,80940.08941.7
132,104,12310.0542.62,004,83920.1452.24,108,96230.1992.4
142,149,525110.5783.62,043,76640.2733.64,193,291150.41513.6
152,182,145371.71084.92,082,738140.71095.24,264,883511.22175.1
162,219,8661838.21687.62,114,3991115.21537.24,334,2652946.83217.4
172,264,26231513.92209.72,150,2611637.61647.64,414,52347810.83848.7
182,183,79747121.627112.42,074,1601979.51587.64,257,95766815.742910.1
192,156,79948522.521510.02,045,2631748.51517.44,202,06265915.73668.7
20-2410,852,9372,39522.18477.810,179,4597297.24304.221,032,3963,12414.91,2776.1
25-2910,776,1891,60014.84384.110,281,5175345.22492.421,057,7062,13410.16873.3
30-5961,967,2306,1289.91,1171.862,838,2982,5394.01,0031.6124,805,5288,6676.92,1201.7
60-6911,946,9291,1249.41351.113,281,3295374.02952.225,228,2581,6616.64301.7
≥ 7010,957,3821,74615.93122.816,178,1358575.37024.327,135,5172,6039.61,0143.7
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

The rate of fatal passenger vehicle crash involvements per 100 million miles traveled in 2001-02 was highest at ages 16-17 for male drivers and at age 16 for female drivers. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. 2008. [Unpublished analysis of data from the US Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the National Household Travel Survey]. Arlington, VA.

Fatal passenger vehicle crash involvements per 100 million miles traveled by driver age and gender, April 2001-March 2002
AgeMalesFemalesTotal*
Crash involvementsMilesRateCrash involvementsMilesRateCrash involvementsMilesRate
166455,813,200,81211.13765,178,574,3037.31,02110,991,775,1169.3
179818,852,565,18811.14298,154,664,7685.31,41017,007,229,9578.3
181,28216,804,407,9407.650810,771,468,1744.71,79027,575,876,1146.5
191,34714,957,220,0709.053811,159,768,8594.81,88526,116,988,9287.2
20-245,36594,285,456,4435.71,81972,854,283,3382.57,184167,139,739,7804.3
25-293,528131,714,125,4172.71,34483,429,400,6171.64,873215,143,526,0352.3
30-5914,904845,507,965,6891.86,927551,350,306,4301.321,83113968582721191.6
60-692,088128,814,817,8451.61,00664,778,212,7901.63,094193,593,030,6351.6
≥ 703,14576,991,652,5604.11,57139,093,332,0094.04,716116,084,984,5694.1
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

The rate of nighttime fatal passenger vehicle crash involvements per 100 million miles traveled in 2001-02 was almost 6 times higher for male drivers ages 16-19 than for male drivers ages 30-59. The corresponding comparison for females yields 3 times the rate. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. 2008. [Unpublished analysis of data from the US Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the National Household Travel Survey]. Arlington, VA.

Nighttime (9pm-6am) fatal passenger vehicle crash involvements
per 100 million miles traveled by driver age and gender, April 2001-March 2002
AgeMalesFemales
Crash involvementsMilesRateCrash involvementsMilesRate
16-191,7536,868,242,23025.55585,288,492,85810.6
20-294,38734,863,762,48612.61,02116,250,031,8666.3
30-594,659100,198,843,5834.61,49942,841,189,8213.5
60-693348,575,497,3493.9973,894,479,5172.5
≥ 702433,451,274,2997.0731,370,058,2965.3

When teenagers died

Fifty-five percent of motor vehicle crash deaths among teenagers in 2007 occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

Teenage motor vehicle crash deaths by day of week, 2007
Day of weekDeaths%
Sunday95319
Monday56812
Tuesday53111
Wednesday56611
Thursday57112
Friday79516
Saturday96220
Total*4,946100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Thirty-four percent of teenage motor vehicle crash deaths in 2007 occurred between 6 pm and midnight.

Teenage motor vehicle crash deaths by time of day, 2007
Time of dayDeaths%
Midnight-3am74715
3am-6am47010
6am-9am3938
9am-noon3016
Noon-3pm49810
3pm-6pm82217
6pm-9pm77616
9pm-midnight90018
Total*4,946100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Alcohol involvement

Young drivers are less likely than adults to drive after drinking alcohol, but their crash risk is substantially higher when they do. This is especially true at low and moderate blood alcohol concentrations (BACs). Peck, R.C.; Gebers, M.A.; Voas, R.B.; and Romano, E. 2008. The relationship between blood alcohol concentration (BAC), age, and crash risk. Journal of Safety Research 39:311-19. The estimated percentage of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers ages 16-17 who had BACs at or above 0.08 percent in 2007 was 18 percent, down 57 percent since 1982. Most of this decline took place in the 1980s. This age group experienced the greatest decline in alcohol involvement, compared with a 44 percent decline for drivers ages 18-20, a 18 percent decline for drivers ages 21-30, and a 31 percent decline for drivers older than 30.

Percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers with BACs ≥ 0.08 percent by age, 1982-2007

Estimated percent and number of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers with BACs ≥ 0.08 percent by age group, 1982-2007
YearAges 16-17Ages 18-20Ages 21-30Ages >30
Drivers killedEstimated drivers killed with BAC ≥ 0.08Drivers killedEstimated drivers killed with BAC ≥ 0.08Drivers killedEstimated drivers killed with BAC ≥ 0.08Drivers killedEstimated drivers killed with BAC ≥ 0.08
NumNum%NumNum%NumNum%NumNum%
1982895368412,5611,458576,2433,948639,8614,20843
1983899345382,4271,336556,0533,859649,8443,94340
1984969321332,4721,274526,4113,8856110,3373,86037
1985935250272,2921,009446,2623,6595810,4413,71336
19861,172336292,4641,158476,6953,9745911,0423,88735
19871,192311262,4381,004416,8023,9755811,5794,01635
19881,177302262,6111,056406,8193,9915912,1454,20335
19891,060234222,476991406,4753,6755712,4014,27234
1990999224222,398974416,1523,5105712,2744,23835
1991902193212,119852405,6233,1835711,8013,99334
1992900165181,797664375,1222,7595411,6393,82333
1993935152161,870643345,0652,6585212,0383,85132
19941,006167171,984632324,9752,4845012,5223,77130
19951,015150151,968575295,0812,5855113,2464,15531
19961,106186171,920583304,9892,4755013,4784,07030
19971,090180171,944593314,7722,2724813,7734,00129
19981,059161152,035607304,5772,2224913,8393,93028
19991,092172162,169677314,6532,2604913,8703,86628
2000999158162,251686304,7062,2684813,7433,99729
2001993132132,254691314,7352,3585013,7904,00529
20021,126155142,326718314,9382,4625014,0064,02029
2003994159162,266699314,8522,3084813,9573,93028
2004969149152,206665304,9702,3724813,6893,74327
2005879132152,106603295,0672,4924913,8093,85228
2006859151182,161680315,1592,5354913,3213,77928
2007772137181,939615325,0022,5775212,5763,68629

Fatally injured female teenage drivers were less likely than male teenage drivers in 2007 to have high BACs. Among fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers ages 16-17, 22 percent of males and 11 percent of females in 2007 had BACs at or above 0.08 percent. Among fatally injured drivers ages 18-19, 32 percent of males and 18 percent of females had BACs at or above 0.08 percent.

Estimated percent and number of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers with BACs ≥ 0.08 percent by gender and age, 2007
AgeMaleFemaleTotal*
Drivers killedEstimated drivers killed with BAC ≥ 0.08Drivers killedEstimated drivers killed with BAC ≥ 0.08Drivers killedEstimated drivers killed with BAC ≥ 0.08
NumNum%NumNum%NumNum%
16-1749810822274291177213718
18-199563083237167181,32737528
2044420246168382361224039
21-303,8122,170571,189407345,0022,57752
31-606,0012,678452,515615248,5163,29339
61-701,088211195093671,59724715
>701,64812688152132,4631476
All ages*14,5125,824405,8651,2172120,3817,04235
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

References