Crash and Injury Risks for Teen Drivers

Image of a teen driving with her father

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. More than 2,300 teens aged 16–19 lost their lives in car crashes in 2017; that’s six teens a day.

Parents can make a big difference in keeping teen drivers safe. Use a Parent-Teen Driving Agreementpdf iconpdf icon to put rules in place that will help your teen stay safe on the road.

Facts About Teen Driver Crashes, Injuries, and Fatalities
  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens.
  • More than 2,300 teens aged 16–19 lost their lives in car crashes in 2017; that’s six teens a day.
  • Per mile driven, teen drivers aged 16–19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.
  • Driver inexperience is the leading cause of crashes and injuries for teen drivers.
  • Crash risk is highest during the first year that drivers have their license.
  • For all ages, fatal crashes are more likely to occur at night, but the risk is higher for teens.

The 8 Danger Zones for Teen Drivers

Make sure that you and your teen driver are aware of the leading causes of teen crashes and injuries.

  1. Driver inexperience
  2. Driving with teen passengers
  3. Nighttime driving
  4. Not using seat belts
  5. Distracted driving
  6. Drowsy driving
  7. Reckless driving
  8. Impaired driving

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Parents and teens can help prevent crashes by reducing or avoiding the 8 danger zones.

Parents: How You Can Help Keep Teens Safe on the Road

Motor vehicle crashes are preventable, and parents can make a big difference in keeping teen drivers safe. Your guidance—and helpful, calm advice—can stay with your teen long after he or she takes the car out alone.

Take these steps to help keep your teen safe on the road:

  • Ride along with your teen for at least 30–50 hours. Teens lack driving experience; therefore, the more they practice, the better.
  • Watch closely and make suggestions on how your teen can improve.
  • Practice with your teen at different times of the day, in different kinds of weather, and in heavy and light traffic.
  • Restrict your teen’s nighttime driving, and make sure your teen is off the road by 9 or 10 pm for at least the first six months they have a license.
  • Limit your teen to zero or one young passenger for at least the first six months they have a license.
  • Discuss your rules of the road with your teen. Create a Parent-Teen Driving Agreementpdf iconpdf icon that puts these rules in writing to set clear expectations and limits. Don’t forget to update the agreement as your teen’s experience increases.
  • Require your teen to wear a seat belt on every trip. It is the simplest way to prevent car crash injuries and deaths.
  • Be a good role model for your teen and always buckle up!

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CDC’s Parents Are the Key campaign helps inform parents about the key role they can—and should—play in protecting their teen drivers.

Teens: Here are the Top 3 Things To Do When You Get Behind the Wheel
  1. Buckle your seat belt. Seat belts are proven to reduce the risk of death and serious injuries by 50%.
  2. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the vehicle. Know where important vehicle features are located – such as the turn signals, windshield wipers, and hazard lights. Adjust the mirrors and steering wheel if necessary. Know the vehicle’s safety features and how to operate it safely.
  3. Put all distractions aside. Make sure your cell phone is off and away. If you need to make a phone call, pull off on the side of the road. And don’t text or use social media while driving!