Eight Danger Zones

In 2019, about seven teens aged 13–19 died every day in motor vehicle crashes. The good news is that teen motor vehicle crash deaths and injuries can be prevented. Make sure your young driver is aware of the leading causes of teen crashes. Then use a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement to put rules in place that will help your teen stay safe.

Danger Zone #1: Driver Inexperience
photo: father and son in a car

Crash risk is highest in the first year a teen has his or her license. Crash risk is particularly high during the first several months of licensure.

What Parents Can Do

  • Provide at least 30 to 50 hours of supervised driving practice over at least six months.
  • Practice on a variety of roads, at different times of day, and in varied weather and traffic conditions.
  • Stress the importance of continually scanning for potential hazards including other vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

Danger Zone #2: Driving with Teen Passengers
photo: teenage boy and girl with a car

Crash risk goes up when teens drive with other teens in the car.

What Parents Can Do

  • Limit your teen to zero or one teen passenger for at least the first six months he or she has a license.
  • Learn about passenger restrictions and other important provisions of your state’s Graduated Driver Licensing system on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s graduated licensing laws by state webpageexternal icon.

Danger Zone #3: Nighttime Driving
nighttime driving

For all ages, fatal crashes are more likely to occur at night, but the risk is higher for teens.

What Parents Can Do

  • Make sure your teen is off the road by 9 or 10 pm for at least the first six months of licensed driving.
  • Practice nighttime driving with your teen when you think your teen is ready.

Danger Zone #4: Not Using Seat Belts
photo: seat belt

The simplest way to prevent car crash deaths and injuries is to buckle up.

What Parents Can Do

Danger Zone #5: Distracted Driving
smartphone on seat

Distractions increase your teen’s risk of being in a crash.

What Parents Can Do

Danger Zone #6: Drowsy Driving
photo: highway at night

Young drivers are at high risk for drowsy driving. Teens are typically most tired and at risk when driving in the early morning or late at night.

What Parents Can Do

  • Know your teen’s schedule so you can be sure he or she is well rested before getting behind the wheel.

Danger Zone #7: Reckless Driving
photo: speed limit sign

Research shows that teens lack the experience, judgment, and maturity to assess risky situations.

What Parents Can Do

  • Make sure your teen knows to follow the speed limit and to adjust speed to match road conditions.
  • Remind your teen to maintain enough space behind the vehicle ahead to avoid a crash in case of a sudden stop.

Danger Zone #8: Impaired Driving
photo: man holding a drink handing over car keys

Even small amounts of alcohol will impair your teen’s driving ability and increase their risk of a crash. Many other types of drugs/substances (including marijuana, other illicit drugs, prescription medications, or over-the-counter medications) also have the potential to impair a teen’s ability to drive safely.

What Parents Can Do