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For a teen, getting your driver’s license is an exciting next step toward independence. For a parent, it can be a major source of anxiety — one that is not completely unfounded. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team researched teen driving facts and crash statistics to help teens understand common risks on the road. Whether you’re a teen or a parent, knowing the facts and statistics surrounding teen driving may help you become a better driver.
8 facts and stats about teen driving
These statistics on teenage driving may help you understand the potential issues young drivers can run into:
- Teen drivers aged 15-19 make up almost four percent of the overall percent of total drivers. (U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration)
- In the United States, the fatal crash rate per miles driven for 16- to 19 year-olds is nearly three times the rate for drivers ages 20 and over, with the risk being the highest for ages 16 to 17. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – IIHS)
- May and June are when the most crash fatalities occur among teen drivers, making summertime a riskier time for teen drivers on the road. (IIHS)
- Male drivers make up about 68 percent of the teen crash fatality rate, with 1,866 of the 2,730 deaths in 2020. (IIHS)
- Motor vehicle accidents were the leading cause of death for female teenagers between 13 and 19 years old in 2020. (IIHS)
- Teen drunk driving statistics suggest that the rate of teens driving after drinking alcohol is lower than that for adult drivers, but teens are more likely to crash when they mix drinking and driving. (IIHS)
- Drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 were speeding in 79 percent of single-vehicle crashes. (National Safety Council – NCS)
Common causes of teenage car crashes
Teen driving statistics show that a number of factors contribute to the increased likelihood of a crash — not just one or two. By understanding the common causes, parents can talk to their teens about how each situation might be avoided.
- Distracted driving. Distracted driving includes any behavior that takes a driver’s eyes and focus off the road, such as eating, drinking, texting, applying makeup or smoking. Among drivers aged 15-20 involved in fatal crashes, 9 percent were distracted. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC)
- Texting and driving. Texting is a form of distracted driving that is unfortunately very prevalent among teen drivers. Not only do most states have laws banning texting while driving, 39 percent of teens have admitted to texting while driving. (CDC)
- Speeding. Teen drivers are more likely than other age groups to speed and drive too closely to the car in front of them. In 2020, 35 percent of male drivers and 18 percent of female drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the incident. (CDC)
- Drunk driving. While teens do not statistically engage in drunk driving as much as adult drivers, they tend to see more severe consequences when they do. In 2021, 19 percent of fatal crashes among drivers aged 16-17 involved alcohol use. (IIHS)
- Inexperience. Lack of experience behind the wheel is a significant factor for teen drivers, with many lacking the confidence and knowledge to handle certain driving situations. Newly licensed drivers have the least experience and the highest crash rate among teens. The crash rate per mile driven is 1.5 times higher for 16-year-olds compared to 18- and 19- year-olds. (CDC)
- Seat belts. Teen drivers are less likely to wear seat belts. Of all the fatal crashes recorded in 2021, almost half of teen drivers aged 16-19 were found not restrained. (IIHS)
- Nighttime driving. The CDC notes driving at night is riskier for drivers of all ages, but especially teen drivers, which could be due to limited visibility, tiredness or impairment. Data shows that in 2021, 42 percent of fatal crashes among teens aged 13-19 occurred between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. (IIHS)
- Peer passengers. While teens may look forward to driving with their friends, doing so can be dangerous. Having another teen or young adult in the car with a teen driver increases the chances of a crash. (CDC)
Most dangerous driving times for teenage drivers
Driving at night between midnight and 3 a.m., particularly on a Saturday or Sunday, puts teens at a higher risk of a crash. In fact, starting around 3 p.m. each day, a teen’s risk for a deadly crash steadily increases, probably because there are more people on the road, followed by an increased chance of impaired drivers as the evening kicks in. Teens driving at night might also be tired and have poor visibility. The 2021 IIHS data below may help teens and parents understand the role that different days and times of the week play in safer teen driving.
Teenage motor vehicle crash deaths by day of week
|Day of week||Deaths||% of weekly deaths|
Teenage motor vehicle crash deaths by time of day
|Time of day||Deaths||% of daily deaths|
|Midnight – 3 a.m.||437||14%|
|3 a.m. – 6 a.m.||269||9%|
|6 a.m. – 9 a.m.||273||9%|
|9 a.m. – noon||196||6%|
|Noon – 3 p.m.||346||11%|
|3 p.m. – 6 p.m.||403||13%|
|6 p.m. – 9 p.m.||531||17%|
|9 p.m. – midnight||588||19%|
Teenage motor vehicle crash deaths by month
|Month||Deaths||% of annual deaths|
Teen related crash fatalities by state
To better understand where fatal teen crashes are happening, we leveraged teen crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) across the U.S. In the table below, you can see a breakdown of the percentage of accidents that involved teen drivers in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
State % of fatal accidents involving young drivers Alabama 13.4% Alaska 14.1% Arizona 11.7% Arkansas 12.7% California 11.6% Colorado 15% Connecticut 13.2% Delaware 14.7% Florida 13.0% Georgia 13.0% Hawaii 10.6% Idaho 17.8% Illinois 13.1% Indiana 14% Iowa 16.6% Kansas 12% Kentucky 12.1% Louisiana 12.8% Maine 12.2% Maryland 10.2% Massachusetts 10.8% Michigan 12.3% Minnesota 15.2% Mississippi 13.6% Missouri 12.8% Montana 14.6% Nebraska 14.6% Nevada 13.2% New Hampshire 8.7% New Jersey 12% New Mexico 13.8% New York 10.4% North Carolina 14.2% North Dakota 10% Ohio 12.8% Oklahoma 15% Oregon 14.6% Pennsylvania 10.5% Puerto Rico 10.7% Rhode Island 11.9% South Carolina 13.3% South Dakota 12.8% Tennessee 15.4% Texas 14.4% Utah 14.9% Vermont 14.5% Virginia 10.7% Washington 14.8% Washington D.C. 13.9% West Virginia 10.5% Wisconsin 11.7% Wyoming 11%
Teen driving safety tips and resources
Teen crash statistics can be scary to look at. Fortunately, there are a variety of resources to help parents and guardians educate both themselves and their teen drivers on improving their safety on the road.
- Talk to your teen about safe driving habits. Teens learn a lot during the driver’s education process, but having continued discussions with your teen about lifelong driver safety may be helpful. You may want to review the CDC’s Parent-Teen Driving Agreement to level-set on what constitutes good driving behavior and habits.
- Understand the laws and plan for next steps. Each state has its own graduated driver licensing laws that determine what times of day teens can be out on the road, when they can graduate to the next license phase and if they can drive with passengers in the car. Before your teen starts driving, you may want to discuss a timeline of events, expectations for driving schedules and what they can do to prepare for each new phase.
- Consider a telematics device. Your insurer may offer a telematics program that tracks real-time driving habits. This may help hold teens accountable and potentially earn you a discount on your car insurance premium.
- Be a good driving role model for your teen driver. Demonstrating safe driving habits in front of your teen may encourage them to follow in your footsteps. This means putting away distractions while driving, obeying the rules of the road and monitoring road conditions for potential safety hazards. For more tips on how to demonstrate safe driving, you may want to check out the CDC’s eight danger zones of driving.
- Get familiar with your car. Knowing how to adjust the mirrors and seat, where the windshield wiper lever is and how to monitor the odometer may eliminate unnecessary distractions and help your teen feel more confident.
Frequently asked questions
Most of it comes down to experience. Teen drivers have fewer hours logged behind the wheel than older, more experienced drivers. As such, they tend to overestimate their driving abilities and are more likely to get themselves into dangerous situations. Data shows that teens are also more likely to engage in risky behavior like speeding or not wearing a seatbelt.
Because teenagers are, statistically speaking, more dangerous drivers, adding a teen driver to your car insurance policy may cause your rates to increase. To help keep your rates at an affordable level, it may be helpful to compare car insurance quotes and discount opportunities for teens.
Nighttime is a dangerous time for teens to be on the road. IIHS data shows that in 2021, 50 percent of fatal teen car crashes happened between 6 p.m. and 3 a.m.
According to the NHTSA, younger drivers accounted for 8.5 percent of all drivers involved in fatal car crashes. This is high when you consider that young drivers only account for 5.1 percent of total licensed drivers.