Teen drivers have crash rates 3 times those of drivers 20 and older per mile driven. Immaturity leads to speeding and other risky habits, and inexperience means teen drivers often don't recognize or know how to respond to hazards.
Graduated licensing reduces teens' driving risk. Graduated licensing allows teens to practice driving with supervision before getting their license and restricts driving after they are licensed. Today all states have at least some elements of graduated licensing. The current best practices are a minimum intermediate license age of 17, a minimum permit age of 16, at least 65 required hours of supervised practice driving, and, during the intermediate stage, a night driving restriction starting at 8 p.m. and a ban on all teen passengers.
Alcohol is a factor in many teen crashes. Among teen drivers killed in 2010, 30 percent of males and 22 percent of females had blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08 percent or higher. Although young drivers are less likely than adults to drink and drive, their crash risk is higher when they do. The combination of drinking and driving is made worse by teenagers' relative inexperience both with drinking and with driving.
The Institute's online calculator shows how each state can save lives and reduce crashes by strengthening young driver laws.
This fact sheet, also available as a brochure, provides information about young drivers and the licensing programs that protect them while learning to drive. Also available in Spanish.
Teen drivers have much higher crash rates than adults. Fortunately, there are ways parents can help reduce the risks, as shown in this video.