Teen Driving Statistics

When I turned 16 my parents had three teenage drivers in their home. My brother was 18 and my sister, 19. Now that I have a young adult and think about her driving…I honestly don’t know how my mom and dad slept at night when we were out!

I learned some interesting statistics at The Allstate Foundation #60Summit, some of them may seem obvious and some scary, but they all underscore that education and action are key to keeping our roads safer for everyone on them.

But what is surprising is the fact that the numbers reveal the need to increase parents’ knowledge of the teen driving issue and help define the role they play in preparing their teens for driving.

Photo Credit: John Fischer

Teens Behind the Wheel

• On average, nearly 10 teens die every day in car crashes

The leading cause of teen car crashes is inexperience1 – This is something that I want to comment on because I tweeted that fact out on Twitter during one of the summit sessions. Someone retweeted me with #shocker in front of the tweet. Now maybe they were surprised, but I honestly think they were mocking my tweet. In other words “obviously they are inexperienced and thus crashing, they are teens and have just started driving”….but if it’s so logical, why don’t all states have more mandatory learning hours where the teens need to be driving with a licensed adult driver?? Some states don’t require it at all for a teen to get a driving permit, now that’s a #shocker.

• The most dangerous year of a person’s life is the year after they obtain a driver’s license1

• Teens generally say the most positive influence on their behavior is their parents and a mere 5% say friends are more important.1 Demonstrating good driving behaviors is helpful in teaching teens safe driving according to 99% of parents2. BUT really how many of us…talk on the phone, are distracted by our kids, eat while we drive, put on lipstick, sip a latté….while we’re driving?  How can we expect our kids to not do the same, when they see us doing it and we’re their biggest influence?

• Research shows that stronger teen driver safety laws can save nearly 2,000 lives annually2

Photo Credit: ShashiBellamkonda

Parent Perceptions

Half of American parents find it difficult to control teen driving privileges citing other, more lenient parents’ influence1 — That statistic seems insane to me, just goes to show you that peer pressure doesn’t end when you’re a teenager.

• The majority of parents (88%) trust their teen to drive safely3

• A little more than half of American parents (55%) believe if their teen was in an accident, it would be someone else’s fault2

• One in 4 parents say they are too busy to fully monitor their teen’s driving1

• Only 60% of parents are aware of GDL laws, or are even vaguely informed of this program that has been proven to save teen lives.2Question: Do you know what GDL stands for? Surprisingly most parents of teens don’t, it’s the Graduated Driver’s License laws (which are different in each state – in South Dakota the GDL starts at 14, which I think is insane).

1 National Safety Council Parent Education Campaign
2 The Allstate Foundation License to Save Report
3 The Allstate Foundation Research


Photo Credit: David Owen — Three teens joy-riding crashed a GM sport-utility vehicle. Alcohol appears to have been involved. At least four cars were damaged. A fifth vehicle was apparently side-swiped by the SUV.

I have to admit after learning about these statistics, hearing the stories, and watching the presentations, I’m not eager to have my daughter start driving. She wasn’t itching for car keys when she could get a learner’s permit, and now I’m kind of glad. After a family discussion, we’ve decided to put it off for a couple of years, when she is a bit more mature.

It was very eye opening to hear first hand stories from teen driving accident survivors, first responders and medical professionals on what they’ve seen; which also reinforced the notion to me that getting a driver’s license and being able to drive is a privilege not an entitlement.

So what do you think of those statistics? Do you fall into any of them? Either from your experience when driving as a teen or your children’s? How about the parent perceptions?

Further reading:

If you need to deal with legal matters, visit right here in Texas.

I was invited to participate in a summit with The Allstate Foundation, for which they provided full travel expenses, meals, accommodations and/or other premiums, however my opinions are completely my own and I have not been compensated to publish positive or negative reviews of the event or products associated with my experience.

33 thoughts on “Teen Driving Statistics

  1. Wow. My kids are still little but we will be in the same boat as your parents were with all of ours driving and young (our kids are close in age) at the same time. It already makes me nervous. This is a great wake up call for parents to be educated about teen driving and make sure they are making the best decisions and equipping their teens to do the same.

  2. It is scary when your kids reach the age to drive! My kids are all grown now and in a couple years my grandson will be driving, so I will once again be a nervous wreck!

  3. I am still so nervous teaching my kids to drive even though they are very careful and cautious. It is my biggest fear to have a car accident. These statistics are important for everyone to see.

  4. Scary stuff…I think the longer they have a permit the better. I also like the only one other person in the car rule in our state…less distractions.
    I wish we had futuristic cars that never allowed accidents to happen!

  5. One of the scariest things about having teenagers is having them behind the wheel. I still can remember the first time our daughter drove out of our driveway alone to go to the nearby convenience store. When our daughter earned to drive, the state we lived in then had a GDL that didn't start as young as 14!

  6. These stats are so scary! I live in nyc and dont own a car, i only drive a few times a year and this reminds me how much i don't miss being behind the wheel!

  7. Wow! I can't believe the GDL age starts at 14. I think that's too young. My second daughter has had her license for 3 months (she's 17). I ask her to text me when she gets to where she is going, and when she is leaving. She's very good about it. Even though she is my second daughter to drive, it still isnt any easier. I like that the GDL laws say that first year drivers have to be off the roads by 11:00, and can only have one other person in the car. While some of her friends may not obey the laws, we strictly enforce them at our house.

  8. Scary…I never slept when my kids were young and out driving. They are grown now…and I still worry about them on the road. Guess us moms will always worry about our children.

  9. I never had a problem restricting my kids driving privileges. I didn't pay attention to what other parents did. My kids are my responsibility, and I took that very seriously!

  10. I shared info. like this with my son when he was a teen. He wasn't real enthusiastic about hearing and watching the videos I found, but he did listen and watch. He's pretty level headed anyway, but I know he was even more thoughtful because he was informed.

  11. These numbers make you stop and think and make me realize that one day my kids will be out there on the road as well.

  12. Those statistics are very scary. If I had a teenager, I would not want them to drive unless they were very responsible. I didn't want anything to do with driving when I was a teenager (and I actually still don't drive). I think those videos and pictures they showed in school really got the best of me.

  13. I was scared to drive until I was 19, mainly because of bad experiences with friends in high school driving really badly.

  14. My son has his permit and turns 16 sept 18th and I am very nervous..I have a panic attack whenever I drive with him which has been only a few times.My hubby usually drives with him because he is more relaxed

  15. I still believe that teens should be given a longer course in driving than just a few weeks. I like the idea that they should have to drive with someone in the car until they are 18 and can get a "real" drivers license of their own too. These kids cannot learn what we have learned in that amount of time to be able to be responsible enough on their own at that age.

  16. my heart is always in my mouth when any of my kids are out and about. thankfully, we've never even had a fender-bender…..but i'm still always a bit uneasy

  17. I hate that parents cave just because other parents cave and give in to their children. I also have a hard time realizing that so many states have such a short permit period that the teen doesn't have enough time to get the experience they need. I was very very glad that I got to drive with a my parents for a full year before getting my licence. I got to drive in the rain and snow. I had my dad take me to a parking lot and spin doughnuts so that when I, did end up in a spin a few years later I didn't panic and was able to get out of the spin and drive down the road. I was definitely shaken up but I didn't hit any cars and no one hit me. My parents were very quick to ground us off of the car. While I never got grounded my sister did get grounded a lot because she liked to try and push her boundries. Parents need to stand up to their children so that these children learn to be responsible.

  18. I think the most common contributor to reckless teen driving are the passengers. You are either distracted by the conversation or are trying to show off by speeding and weaving through traffic.

  19. My daughter will be 20 on Wednesday. Although she's a good driver, she can become distracted. She's gone into TWO ditches (one at 16, one at 17) and she mercilessly slaughtered a mailbox. Nothing major and I believe the smaller accidents have taught her a valuable lesson.

    I do spend a lot of time praying for her safety and even took her to our local priest to have her and the car blessed.

    Terri P
    pr4gatheringroses AT gmail DOT com

  20. Those statistics are scary, but not surprising to me. I'm glad my parents were strict with me, not allowing me to have any friends in the car with me for almost two years. Of course, I resented them back then, but now I can look back and realize what a good rule it was. I was also to leave the radio off when driving – no temptation of changing the channel. I wish more parents were as strict.

  21. Thanks for the post. Obviously inexperience contributes to teen driving accidents, but another thing I worry about is texting while driving. I've seen teens AND adults guilty of that, even though it is against the law in my state.

  22. I too just started thinking about this on the 29th my son will be 12 years old and before I know it he will be 16 years old, I will not allow him to get a learners permit if I see he doesn't show responsibility and maturity. I still have time before he is 16 years old.

  23. My oldest turns 16 in October. I agree that parents should show a child how to drive by example first & foremost.

  24. I personally think the driving age should be raised to 18. Let kids have 3 years of supervised driving before they hit the road by themselves. At the very least, if they are going to drive at 16, make them drive a used car so they won't be in too deep when they back into a lightpole or something like that.

  25. My son drives and I can tell you I am scared whenever he gets in that car.I so think inexperience
    has a big part in my fears.You can't trust other drivers to obey the rules and that is what I constantly tell him.Driving too fast is another issue.Slowing down saves lives.I think awareness
    is the answer.I worry my son about driving,and that's just too bad:)

  26. Mine are not old enough yet but when that time comes my husband knows it all and will be an awesome teacher.

  27. "How can we expect our kids to not do the same, when they see us doing it and we're their biggest influence?"

    Kids learn to drive by watching us long before they ever get in the driver's seat! How many years have they watched you eat, drink, talk on the phone, play with the radio and more from the backseat? Bad habits start early and it starts with us!

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