The Dangers of Teen Speeding

The dangers of teen speeding are real. Speeding increases the distance needed to be able to stop the car while reducing reaction time to avoid a potential collision. In fact, among serious crashes where teen driver error was the cause, 21% occurred from going too fast for road conditions. Speeding also increases the likelihood that a crash will result in injury.

A recent study published in Scientific Reports that analyzed driving behaviors of young adults in a virtual reality driving simulator found that sensation seeking traits were associated with faster average and maximum driving speeds.

In other research conducted at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, not all speed-related teen crashes are due to intentional risk-taking. Instead, most are caused by a lack of driving skills and inexperience. New drivers need to be taught how to manage their speed depending on traffic and road conditions and how to keep a safe distance from other vehicles.

This means teaching teens how to manipulate the brake and accelerator properly to reduce speed. Saying “slow down” during a practice drive will not be helpful. Instead, parents should say, “We’re approaching an intersection, so it’s time to ease up on the gas pedal, which will slow us down.”

Intentional speeding can take different forms, including ones that may not seem so bad. Teens driving 40 mph in a 30 mph zone may think they’re “only” going 10 mph over the posted speed limit. But that “small” increase in speed translates to a 78% increase in collision energy – that’s nearly double. As part of supervised driving practice, be sure to cover speed management for various conditions and continue to stress the dangers of speeding to your teens.


For more than two decades, speeding has been involved in approximately one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities. In 2020, speeding was a contributing factor in 29% of all traffic fatalities.

More Dangers of Speeding Statistics

  • In 2020, 11,258 speeding-related deaths occurred.
  • 15,510 teen drivers ages 16-19 were involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes from 2015-2019. More than one-third of those crashes involved speeding.
  • Among serious crashes attributed to a critical teen driver error, 21% were due to driving too fast for road conditions.
  • Novice autistic drivers are 44% less likely to crash due to unsafe speed than non-autistic young drivers.
  • Teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and to allow shorter headways (the distance from the front of one vehicle to the front of the next).
  • In fatal speeding-related crashes with teen drivers, the risk increases exponentially with each additional peer passenger in the vehicle. 
  • Young adults (ages 18-24) who self-report cell phone use while driving also engage in other risky driving behaviors, such as speeding, running red lights, and impatiently passing a car in front on the right.