Driving carries extra risk for them.
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).
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
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.
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).
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.
In 2007, 58 percent of deaths among passenger vehicle occupants ages 16-19 were drivers.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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
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.
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.
Fifty-five percent of motor vehicle crash deaths among teenagers in 2007 occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
Thirty-four percent of teenage motor vehicle crash deaths in 2007 occurred between 6 pm and midnight.
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
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.
©1996-2016, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute | www.iihs.org
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