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Teen drivers and crashes: What does the data show?

When considering drivers of all age groups, motor vehicle accidents are most likely to occur with teenagers behind the wheel. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that young drivers between 16 and 19 are almost three times as likely to die in a collision compared with drivers 20 and older when factoring in miles driven.

Male teen drivers in that age range are almost two times more likely to lose their lives than females in that demographic. The risks only grow based on the number of passengers in the car.

The risks facing first-time drivers

The initial months of a teen driving legally is a precarious time. According to the National Household Travel Survey, the possibility of having an accident during the initial months following the issuing of the license is dangerously likely. From 2016 to 2017, crash rates per mile driven were 1.5 times higher for 16-year-olds compared to older drivers age 18 to 19.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reports that drivers age 16 to 19 were involved in 43 percent of fatal car accidents from 2015 to 2019. California reported 979 teen drivers and passengers lost their lives during the same time period. Nearly half of those tragic events involved excessive speeding.

Solutions provided by the GHSA included thorough driver education and training, along with limitations to teens on times they can drive and the passengers allowed to accompany them. California passed a law addressing that problem in 1997. Those traveling outside the borders should be aware that the Golden State is the exception, not the rule.