MOTOR VEHICLE CRASHES
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. In 2015, 2,333 teens in the United States ages 16–19 were killed and 221,313 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes in 2014. That means that six teens ages 16–19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries. In 2013, young people ages 15-19 represented only 7% of the U.S. population. However, they accounted for 11% ($10 billion) of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries.
The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16-19-year-olds than among any other age group. In fact, per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash. Among teen drivers, those at especially high risk for motor vehicle crashes are:
- Males: In 2014, the motor vehicle death rate for male drivers and passengers ages 16 to 19 was two times that of their female counterparts.
- Teens driving with teen passengers: The presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers. This risk increases with the number of teen passengers.
- Newly licensed teens: Crash risk is particularly high during the first months of licensure. The crash rate per mile driven is 3 times higher for 16-17 year olds as compared to 18-19 year olds.
What factors put teen drivers at risk?
- Teens are more likely than older drivers to underestimate dangerous situations or not be able to recognize hazardous situations. Teens are also more likely than adults to make critical decision errors that lead to serious crashes.
- Teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and allow shorter headways (the distance from the front of one vehicle to the front of the next). The presence of male teenage passengers increases the likelihood of this risky driving behavior.
- In 2014, 50% of teen deaths from motor vehicle crashes occurred between 3 p.m. and midnight and 53% occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
- Compared with other age groups, teens have among the lowest rates of seat belt use. In 2015, only 61% of high school students reported they always wear seat belts when riding with someone else.
- At all levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the risk of involvement in a motor vehicle crash is greater for teens than for older drivers.
- Among male drivers between 15 and 20 years of age who were involved in fatal crashes in 2014, 36% were speeding at the time of the crash and 24% had been drinking.
- In 2014, 17% of drivers aged 16 to 20 involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes had a BAC of .08% or higher.
- In a national survey conducted in 2015, 20% of teens reported that, within the previous month, they had ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol. Among students who drove, 8% reported having driven after drinking alcohol within the same one-month period.
- In 2014, 64% of drivers aged 15 to 20 who were killed in motor vehicle crashes after drinking and driving were not wearing a seat belt.
- Of the teens (aged 16-19) who died in passenger vehicle crashes in 2014 approximately 53% were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.2 Research shows that seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half.
Make sure your young driver is aware of the leading causes of teen crashes:
- Driver inexperience
- Driving with teen passengers
- Nighttime driving
- Not using seat belts
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Reckless driving
- Impaired driving
Parents, pediatricians, and organizations can find more information on how to keep teens safe on the road at www.cdc.gov/ParentsAreTheKey. There you can download a free Parent-Teen Driving Agreement and other free materials.