Teen Drivers Far More Likely to Be Involved in Fatal Crash


CARS.COM — School’s out and the “100 deadliest days” for teen drivers begins as a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that drivers ages 16-17 years old are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash. 

Related: Keep Your Teen Driver Safe With These Cars

The report comes as the riskier summer driving season begins. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, deadly teen driver crashes rise on average 15 percent compared to the rest of the year. About 1,600 people, the driver or others, died over the past five years in summer crashes involving inexperienced teen drivers.

“Statistics show that teen crashes spike during the summer months because teens are out of school and on the road,” said Dr. David Yang, foundation executive director, in a statement. “Research found that inexperience paired with greater exposure on the road could create a deadly combination for teen drivers.”

Overall, the average number of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes rose more than 10 percent from the previous year, according to the study, which analyzed the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2015 crash data, the latest available.

Comparing crash rates per mile driven for all drivers, the study also found that drivers ages 16-17 years old were:

  • Nine times as likely as all drivers 18 and older to be involved in a crash and six times as likely to be involved in a fatal crash
  • Five times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a crash and twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash

The AAA researchers found that the three most common factors in teen-driver-involved fatal crashes were a lack of seat belt use (60 percent of teens killed were unbelted), speeding (a factor in 30 percent of teen-involved fatal crashes) and distractions, with the top one being talking with other teens in the car, followed by cellphone use.

AAA urges parents to talk regularly with teens about these common risks, be good examples of safety themselves and agree on family rules for the teen drivers. The foundation offers more information and tips for parents at and NHTSA offers help for parents here.  

“Parents are the front line of defense for keeping our roads safer this summer,” said Jennifer Ryan, AAA director of state relations. “It all starts with educating teens about safety on the road and modeling good behavior, like staying off the phone and buckling your safety belt.”


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Former D.C. Bureau Chief Fred Meier, who lives every day with Washington gridlock, has an un-American love of small wagons and hatchbacks. Email Fred Meier

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