Teen Driving Crash Risks

Research shows teens exit the learner’s permit period of driving with significant skill deficits, leading to a much higher risk of crashing compared with more experienced drivers. Understanding teen driving risks can help families navigate the learning-to-drive process and beyond. Use this section of Teen Driver Source to increase your knowledge of facts and statistics about teen driver risks.

Parents can help manage teen driving risks by making sure their teen drivers follow GDL laws and other traffic safety laws. Parents can also influence teen driving risks by staying involved and modeling safe driving behaviors.

Watch this video to improve communication with your teen:


The overwhelming majority (75%) of serious teen driver crashes are due to "critical errors," with three common errors accounting for nearly half of these crashes: lack of scanning that is needed to detect and respond to hazards, going too fast for road conditions, and being distracted by something inside or outside of the vehicle.

More Teen Driving Risks Statistics

  • From 2002-2021, fatal crashes involving young drivers fell 38%, while they increased nearly 8% for drivers age 21 and older.
  • From 2002-2021, deaths of young drivers involved in crashes fell about 45%, while deaths of older drivers (age 21 and older) increased 11%.
  • In 2020, the risk of dying in a car crash was 62% higher on a rural road compared to an urban road for the same trip length.
  • Quality supervised driving practice matters. A randomized, controlled trial found that teens with families that followed the TeenDrivingPlan program were 65% less likely to make dangerous driving errors.
  • Novice teen drivers’ crash risk drops by more than two-thirds after the first 1,000 to 1,500 miles of independent driving.
  • The majority of fatigue-related crashes are caused by drivers under age 25.
  • Most teen crashes are not caused by aggressive driving or thrill-seeking. Instead, they are more often caused by errors associated with inexperience.
  • Distracted driving, drowsy driving, and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs raise the risk of crashing for teen drivers. Other behaviors, such as not wearing a seat belt or speeding, are known to increase the likelihood of injury or death if a crash occurs.