The moment that your teen passes their driving test for the first time, your heart sinks. Sure, you want your teenager to go out into the world as a first-time driver well-equipped and ready to take on any challenges that come their way. Before you send your teen out on the road for the first time with a new license, this is an article you’ll want to read. We’re going to explore the sordid history of teen driving and provide real-life tips that you can use to reduce risk the next time your teen gets behind the wheel.

driver id

The History of Teen Driving

History reveals that driving age restrictions came into effect as early as the 20th Century. The main motivation for driving age limits was to protect other drivers on the road from young, inexperienced drivers that could pose a dangerThe Set Minimum Driving Age :

statue of liberty
farm equipment

In the early 1900s, New York would only allow 16 and 17 year olds to drive to and from school or work with junior permits

US Standard : 16 years old

Agricultural states permitted an even younger driving age at 14 or 15 so that teens could drive in daily farming operations.

Teen Driver Accident and Fatality Rates

After the minimum driving age of 16 was set in the US, it brought its share of
issues. According to further statistics from the CDC:

Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in the US.


Seven teens from 16-19 die every day in a car crash.

The motor vehicle fatality rate for male drivers/passengers from 16-19 was close to two times that of female drivers/passengers.

16 to 19-year-old drivers are three times more likely to get into a fatal crash for each mile driven compared to drivers 20 and older.

19 billion and 7 billion

A teen’s crash risk is exceptionally high the first few months after they get their license.

Young drivers from 15-24 make up only 14% of the population yet account for 30%, or $19 billion, in total expenses for accident related injuries among males and 28%, or $7 billion, among females.

boy with drivers license

Teens driving with more passengers have an increased risk of a crash; the risk increases exponentially as more passengers are added to a vehicle.Here are the crash rates by driver age and number of passengers :

Compared to other countries, teen driving statistics in the US are grim

The Dangers of Teen Driving

dangers of teen driving

most teen driving risks hinge on distraction behind the wheel.

The Automobile Association of America’s Foundation for Traffic Safety study revealed that:

16 or 17-year-old driverrisk doubles when 21quadruples with three or more passengers younger than 21

16 or 17-year-old driver has a 44% increased risk of death for every mile driven when driving with a single passenger under 21.

The risk then doubles with two passengers under 21.

It quadruples with three or more passengers younger than 21.

When a teen drives in a car with a passenger 35 or older, their risk of dying in an accident decreases by 62%.

Fatal Crashes by speed limit 16 years old drivers

up to 2530-3540-5050 and up

16-year-old drivers are 50% more likely to get into a fatal crash when driving above 55 mph. Compare this to a moderate speed of 30 to 35 mph with a crash risk at close to 20%.

With help from integrated practice of graduated driver licensing, young drivers are required to gain hands-on driving experience in a number of states before they can enter into riskier situations, such as driving with teen passengers or driving at night.

Statistics prove that graduated driver licensing has provided positive benefits to reduce teen crash rates by 20% to 40%. Fatal accidents for 16-year-old drivers in 1995 were at a whopping count of 508. Over the next 15 years, fatal accidents among 16-year-old drivers dropped to 158. 17-year-old drivers saw a similar decrease from 507 fatal accidents in 1995 to 250 fatal accidents in 2010.

The Most Common Teen Driving Risk Behaviors

NIGHTTIME DRIVINGTeens are three times more likely to crash per mile after 9 PM compared to daytime driving. For new drivers, driving at night is difficult and requires more experience; a teen may also be sleep deprived or impaired from drinking when driving at night.

MULTIPLE PASSENGERSAs discussed above, crash risk increases significantly when more teen passengers are in a vehicle with a teen driver. Peer pressure may encourage a teen to drive impulsively and take even more risks.

NO SEAT BELTSTeens are the age group that is the least likely to wear a seatbelt compared to other drivers.1

/DRUG USETeens may drive under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol to cause a potentially fatal crash. Compared to older impaired drivers, teens have a higher crash risk with alcohol in their system.

RISK TAKINGAs discussed above, teens are more impulsive and likely to take a risk that could result in a crash, like tailgating, speeding, running a stop sign or red light, making an illegal turn, or failing to yield to another vehicle or pedestrian.

MISCALCULATIONA teen may have a more difficult time detecting hazards or risks on the road that often come with driving experience. A young driver may not be able to estimate the risk of a crash in a dangerous situation, like speeding on an icy road.

INEXPERIENCEA very new driver may need more practice in handling a vehicle and driving safely through traffic.

SPEEDINGEven driving 1 mph above the speed limit is considered speeding and could pose a danger to a teen driver. 39% of male drivers from ages 15-20 in fatal crashes in 2010 were speeding at the time of the accident.1

  • seat belt55%of teens in fatal crashes weren’t wearing seat belts.
  • wheelchair31%of teen drivers in fatal accidents were impaired.
  • speedometer39%of male drivers from ages 15-20 were speeding before a fatal crash.
  • teen deaths63%of teen passenger deaths were caused by teen drivers.
  • the weekend53%of teen driving fatalities occur on the weekend.
  • 9pm to 6am41%of teen deaths occur between 9 PM and 6 AM.

How Teen Driving Affects Car Insurance Rates

Although safety is of the utmost importance, many parents may be concerned about how a reckless teen driver could affect their car insurance rates. Parent should keep in mind that car insurance rates are likely to increase when adding a teen onto a policy.

teen driver principal3 to 6 years40% lesscitation and car accident

A new teen driver is added as the principal driver of a vehicle. Car inssuance will up to 3.5 xthe original premium.

A teen could pay roughly 40%less in car insurance.

But if your teen receives a traffic citation or gets into an accident, it could add $300 – $500onto an insurance premium.

Teen Driving Regulations By State

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, the implementation of graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs can help a teen driver to safely gain hands-on road experience with three different stages:

number 1

Learner StageSupervise driving and test driving skills.

number 2

Intermediate StageAllow unsupervised driving in risky situations.

number 3

Full Privilege Stageto result in a standard driver’s license.

Based on the GDL program, many states have passed graduated driver licensing laws. These laws will vary by state and may include:


Texting or Cellphone Use31 states + Washington DC ban teen cell phone use while driving.


Passenger Restriction45 states + Washington DC restrict the number of passengers in a vehicle in the intermediate driving stage.


Nighttime Driving Restriction48 states + Washington DC restrict nighttime driving in the intermediate stage.


SeatbeltA teen with a learner’s permit will also be required to wear a seatbelt at all times


Novice Driver DecalNew Jersey requires drivers under 21 without a full-privilege license to place a decal on their vehicle for identification as a new driver.

How To Keep Your Teen Safe Behind The Wheel

parents with child

Be more involved as a parent

Tips For Parents :

drivers license

Delay LicenseTry to delay your teen’s license if possible to 17 or 18 years old.

steering wheel

PracticePractice driving with your teen regularly in a variety of high-risk situations.

thumbs up

Role ModelBe a good role model to demonstrate positive driving habits behind the wheel.

no teen passengers

No Teen PassengersDon’t allow your teen to drive with teen passengers or ride with teen drivers.

pay attention to sons

Pay Attention To Your SonPay special attention to male teen drivers as they are more likely to get into an accident than female teen drivers.


CurfewDon’t allow your teen to drive after dark, regardless of state law.


No CellphoneBan cell phone use behind the wheel for yourself and your teen; remember not to call your teen when they could be driving!

Use SeatbeltEnforce seatbelt use at all times.

Safe Vehicle

Safe VehicleProvide your teen with a high-rated, safe vehicle that meets the latest crash standards.

check on teens

Check Up On Your Teen’s Driving RegularlyEven after they have gotten their license.

practice makes perfect

Practice Makes Perfect

The more time you spend teaching healthy driving habits to your teen, the more that you can rest easy when they take the car out for a spin.

safety first

Safety First

Teen driver safety is a serious matter. Taking basic safety precautions and communicating with your teen about dangers on the road could be a matter of life and death.


CDC – Teen Drivers Fact Sheet – Motor Vehicle Safety.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web.

Old Drivers | Teenage Drivers – Consumer Reports.” Consumer Reports Online. Web.

Alarming study shows dangers of teen driving : News :” – Latest local news, weather and sports for Syracuse and Central New York. Web.

2008, Joseph K. Vetter with Fran Lostys from Reader’s Digest | August. “Dangerous Teen Drivers | Reader’s Digest.” Health Tips, Food and Recipes, Funny Jokes and Cartoons, and Sweepstakes | Reader’s Digest. Web.

Franco, Meredith. “The Dangers of Teen Driving.” Ladies’ Home Journal – beauty and fashion advice, easy recipes, and sound marriage advice from LHJ. Web.

Spotlight on HighwaySafety, Governors Highway Safety Association, 2011.

“Shocking Teen Driving Statistics.” – Safe Driving, in an Unsafe World. Web.