A distressed young woman sitting on the ground in front of her vehicle after an accident.

Teen drivers, who do not have much driving experience, exhibit more risky driving behaviors than older drivers. Add distracted driving on top of inexperience, and you have the recipe for serious teenage car accidents. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for 16- to 19-year-olds.

Teenager Car Accident Statistics

Teenage car accidents are an ongoing problem everywhere, including Texas, which is why it’s so important to talk to your teens about practicing safe driving at all times. Before you let them get behind the wheel, you should know these statistics about teen car crashes.

Distracted Driving

Anything that takes a teen driver’s attention and focus off the road can lead to an accident. Teen drivers don’t often realize how quickly conditions on the road change and may not anticipate slowing or stopping traffic the way more experienced drivers do. They may not notice the warning signs of shifting lanes or road construction. Or, they simply may fail to understand how what they see in front of them is a warning of impending danger.

Before you let your teen get behind the wheel, you should know these statistics about teen car crashes.

  • 12% of fatal car accidents involve distracted teen drivers ages 15-19.
  • 13% of teens admit to texting while driving.
  • Of high school students across the country, 32.8% said they have texted or emailed while driving.
  • Of teens ages 16-17, 34% admit to sending and responding to texts as they drive.
  • For kids 12-17, 48% report being in a moving car while the driver was texting.
  • 56% of teen drivers admit to talking on their cell while on the road.

Impaired Driving

Alcohol use is one of the most significant contributors to impaired driving and creates dangerous situations for everyone on the road. If an adult and a teen have the same blood alcohol concentration (BAC) after drinking, the teen is twice as likely to be involved in a car accident, even if their BAC is below the legal limit.

Other statistics for impaired driving include:

  • In 2019, 24% of drivers aged 15-20 killed in teenage crashes had been drinking.
  • Roughly 1/4 of fatal teenage car accidents were caused by underage drinking and driving.
  • 8.2% of high school students admit to driving a car one or more times after drinking.
  • 16.7% of high school students reported riding in a car with a teen driver who was drinking.
  • 27% of teen boys and 15% of teen girls involved in fatal crashes were drinking at the time of the accident.
  • 70% of teen drivers who died from underage drinking accidents were not wearing seat belts.

Additional Statistics

Here are some additional things to consider surrounding teen car crashes.

  • Nighttime and weekend driving increase the chances of teenage crashes, with 40% of motor vehicle crash deaths among teens aged 13–19 occurring between 9 pm and 6 am and 52% occurring on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
  • Teens and young adults have the lowest rates of seat belt use.
  • In 2019, 31% of male drivers and 17% of female drivers aged 15–20 years involved in fatal crashes were speeding.

Preventing Teen Car Crashes

Parents and educators must stress the responsibility of driving to teen drivers and help them understand the dangers of driving while distracted. On top of federal and local laws, you should have your own rules in place for every teenage driver in the home. Some of these rules could include:

  • No texting and driving
  • No speeding or erratic driving
  • A limited number of passengers in the car (usually only one)
  • Only driving with siblings/family members for six months after getting their license
  • No nighttime driving unless necessary (like a school function)
  • Only driving to specific locations until they are more comfortable driving

You could also consider creating a driving agreement between you and your teen with the stipulation that any rule violations will result in a loss of driving privileges for a short time. While these rules can’t prevent every instance of teenage car accidents, they help your teen be as safe and aware as possible when they are behind the wheel.

Teen Driver Behaviors That Put All Road Users at Risk

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 2,400 teens in the United States aged 13–19 were killed, and about 258,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes in 2019. That means about seven teens die every day in teen car crashes. Teen drivers are often involved in these accidents due to the following behaviors.

  • Limited experience — As newer drivers, teens aren’t as skilled at navigating road hazards or avoiding potential accidents as older drivers.
  • Distracted driving — Cell phone use, talking and laughing with friends in the car, and listening to loud music cause distractions while driving and can lead to teen car crashes.
  • Speeding — Teens often look for thrills while driving since the experience is so new, and that thrill is often speeding. This risk-taking behavior is more common in male teens but can be a problem for all teenage drivers.
  • Impaired driving — Drinking and other substance usage is one of the leading causes of fatal teenage car accidents and puts them and all other drivers at significant risk.

An Example of Teenage Car Accidents

A video circulated on the internet some years ago of a group of teenagers in a car driving down the road. They were video recording an overloaded pickup truck driving in front of them. The truck swerved from lane to lane as his load shifted back and forth. The truck finally overturned after a load shift, and the load was dumped all over the highway. The teen driver taking the video could not avoid a collision with the debris.

This is a prime example of inexperience leading to teen car crashes. Had the teen driver been more careful, he would have seen the impending danger as a danger instead of as something funny to record and upload to YouTube.

What to Do If Your Teenager Is Injured in a Car Accident

If your teen has been injured in a car accident as a driver, passenger, or pedestrian, it may feel overwhelming to navigate the aftermath on your own. Instead, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help guide you through the process.