Inexperienced Drivers

Most teen crashes result with inexperienced drivers behind the wheel. After teens pass their behind-the-wheel driving test and get their long awaited license, some incorrectly believe they are experienced drivers. This is not the case.

Getting licensed only means teens have met the state-required practice hours and have passed an on-road test. While they may have a basic knowledge of how to navigate their vehicles in high traffic areas and other challenging situations, they need to gain much more driving experience. Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs help inexperienced drivers gain experience and develop critical driving skills in lower-risk driving situations. 

To help inexperienced drivers gain experience to reduce the risk of crashing, researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have developed and tested the TeenDrivingPlan Practice Guide. This free evidence-based resource offers families a step-by-step guide to make the most of the learner’s permit period. 

It’s also important for parents to help newly licensed teens become experienced drivers by continuing to ride along as passengers in challenging situations, such as driving in heavy traffic or at night. Parents may also want to consider drafting a parent-teen driving agreement and carefully monitor driving progress, only increasing driving privileges when teens demonstrate maturity and skill. Be prepared to remove privileges or step in with additional training or practice as needed. Some families may find in-vehicle or other monitoring devices helpful if used in a supportive way to enhance training.

Watch this video to keep the lines of communication going with your teen:


Per mile driven, drivers ages 16 to 19 have crash rates approximately four times greater than those of drivers ages 20 and older. A leading contributor is driver inexperience.

More Facts & Statistics About Inexperienced Drivers

  • There is a steep drop in crash risk as new drivers gain experience during the first 12 months of driving.
  • It takes a lot of driving experience to identify situations where a hazard might occur. Logging plenty of hours of parent-supervised driving practice in various driving environments can help teens gain experience.
  • Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs can help to address inexperience by improving driving opportunities for teens to gain experience in lower-risk driving situations.
  • Of 945 parents of newly-licensed drivers surveyed, 61% practiced 50 or more hours with their teen drivers. Although the majority of parents found driving practice challenging, they still chose to do it.
  • During a simulated driving assessment, nearly 43% of newly licensed teen drivers crashed at least once; 29% of licensed, experienced adult drivers crashed at least once.