Automobile accidents and vehicular crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States.

In 2011 alone, more than 2,500 teenagers in the United States, between the ages of 16-19 were killed and almost 300,000 were treated in emergency rooms for injuries as a result of vehicular collisions and car wrecks.

In other words, seven teenagers, aged 16 to 19 died every day from injuries sustained in car accidents.

People between the ages 15-24 represent only 14% of the U.S. population, yet they account for 30% ($19 billion) of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries among all males and 28% ($7 billion) of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries among all females.

The risk and incidence of vehicular crashes is much higher among 16- to 19-year-olds than any other age group. In fact, per mile driven, teenage drivers ages 16 to 19 are practically three times more likely than drivers over 20 to be in a fatal crash.

Why are teenage drivers at risk?

Teenagers are far more likely than older drivers to do the following:

  • Underestimate dangerous situations
  • Not be able to recognize hazardous situations
  • Not accurately judge speed, time and distance, due to their inexperience behind the wheel
  • Take unnecessary risks

Teenagers often speed and allow shorter headways (the distance from the front of one vehicle to the front of the next), than older more experienced drivers.

Compared with other age groups, teenagers also have the lowest rate of seat belt use. In 2013, less than 60% of high school students reported seat belts use when riding with someone else.

At any levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the risk of involvement in a motor vehicle crash is greater for teenagers.

In 2012, almost 25% of drivers between the ages of 15 to 20 that were involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes were drinking.

According to a national survey in 2013, more than 20% of teens reported that, within the previous month, they had ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol. Among the students who drove, 10% reported they drove after drinking within the same one-month period.

In 2012, more than 70% of the teenage drivers aged 15 to 20 that were killed in car accidents after drinking and driving were not using their seat belt.

In 2012, almost 50% of teenage deaths from vehicular collisions occurred between 3 p.m. and midnight and approximately 53% occurred on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.