Teen driver safety is a topic that affects all drivers on the road. With 7.8% of all fatal crashes occurring among drivers ages 15 to 20, motor vehicle deaths are the second-leading cause of death for this age group. Teen drivers simply lack driving experience and tend to overestimate their ability to handle dangerous situations on the road, which leads to a greater likelihood of teen car crashes.

Inexperience is not the only cause of fatalities among teen drivers. Data shows there are a variety of factors ranging from distracted and impaired driving to a greater lack of seatbelt use. Parents and guardians should take the opportunity to discuss each of these factors with their teen driver to help them understand the impact certain actions can have. Keeping teen drivers as safe as possible is the number one reason to have these discussions. Not only do safe driving practices keep everyone safer on the road, it may also help parents get better car insurance rates for their teen drivers.

Teen driving facts and statistics

These statistics on teenage driving may help you understand the potential issues young drivers can run into:
  • Teen drivers aged 15 to 19 make up about four percent of the overall percent of total drivers. (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, June and July are when the most crash fatalities occur among teen drivers, making summertime a riskier time for teen drivers on the road. (IIHS)
  • The crash rate for teens is about four times as high compared to other age groups. (IIHS)
  • Male drivers make up 66% of the teen crash fatality rate, with 1,577 of the 2,375 deaths in 2019. (IIHS)
  • Although the rate of teens driving after drinking alcohol is lower than that for adult drivers, teens are more likely to crash when they mix drinking and driving. (IIHS)

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 off the road, such as eating, drinking, texting, applying makeup or smoking. About 9% of teen drivers ages 15-19 report driving distracted.
  • Texting and driving. Texting is a form of distracted driving, but deserves highlighting. Not only do most states have laws banning texting while driving, 38% of teens have admitted to texting while driving. (Journal of Adolescent Health)
  • Teen drivers are more likely than other age groups to speed and drive too closely to the car in front of them. In 2019, 31% of male drivers and 17% of female drivers were involved in fatal crashes as a result of speeding. (IIHS)
  • Drunk driving. Teens are shown to have a higher chance of a crash due to alcohol, versus other age groups. In 2019, 15% of fatal crashes among drivers aged 15-19 involved alcohol use. (IIHS)
  • Inexperience is a significant factor for teen drivers, with many lacking the confidence and knowledge to handle certain driving situations. Newly licensed drivers (typically at age 16) have the least experience and the highest crash rate among teens. The crash rate per mile driven is 1.5 times as high for 16-year-olds compared to 18- and 19- year-olds. (IIHS)
  • Seat belts. Seat belt use is the lowest among teen drivers compared to all other age groups. Of all the fatal crashes recorded in 2019, almost half of teen drivers aged 16-19 were found not restrained. (IIHS)
  • Nighttime driving. The CDC notes driving at night is not only riskier for drivers of all ages, but especially teen drivers, which could be due to limited visibility, tiredness or impairment. Data shows in 2019, 40% of fatal crashes among teens aged 13–19 occurred between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. (IIHS)

Most dangerous driving days and 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 crash versus other age groups. 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. 2019 data provided by the IIHS gives parents and guardians the chance to 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, 2019
Day of week Deaths %
Sunday 438 18
Monday 265 11
Tuesday 287 12
Wednesday 316 13
Thursday 277 12
Friday 356 15
Saturday 436 18
Total 2,375 100
Teenage motor vehicle crash deaths by time of day, 2019
Time of day Deaths %
Midnight – 3 a.m. 298 13
3 a.m. – 6 a.m. 207 9
6 a.m. – 9 a.m. 233 10
9 a.m. – noon 171 7
Noon – 3 p.m. 292 12
3 p.m. – 6 p.m. 360 15
6 p.m. – 9 p.m. 359 15
9 p.m. – midnight 434 18
Total* 2,375 100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Teen driving safety tips or resources

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.

  • Download the free Parent-Teen Driving Agreement created by the CDC.
  • Talk through the “eight danger zones” of driving with your teen driver. You can use this as a guide for discussions on improved safety.
  • The Driver Distraction infographic created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is a resource for parents and educators to go through the consequences of and prevention of distracted driving.
  • Set clear ground rules and consequences for your teen driver, including seat belt and phone use, restrictions on when they can drive and how many people can ride with them and other risky behaviors.
  • Establish a clear no-alcohol and no-drug rule for driving.
  • Become familiar with the state graduated driver licensing laws and the distracted driving laws applicable to your state.
  • Consider installing an app on your teen’s phone to monitor their driving behavior, or enroll in a car insurance telematics program that tracks everyone’s driving habits (and could save you money on your premium).
  • Talk to your teen often about risk factors, observed behaviors, rules and responsibilities for driving. Try to ride with them behind the wheel frequently so you can help them learn to be a safer driver.
  • Be a good role model for your teen driver by practicing what you preach as it relates to safe driving.


Understanding teen driving statistics can provide a clearer picture of the state of teen driving on U.S. roads and educate parents and guardians about the risk factors teens face behind the wheel. Being aware of the leading causes of accidents and fatalities among teen drivers can help both parents and their newly licensed teen drivers make better decisions when they’re driving — and hopefully keep everyone much safer on the road.