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Teen Driving Accidents


Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. In 2014, there were 2,270 teens age 16 to 19 killed in a crash, or an average of six deaths every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Teenagers in the United States drive less than all but the oldest populations — but their numbers of crashes and motor vehicle crash fatalities are disproportionately high. Like every age group, there are unique situations and risk factors that threaten the safety of teenagers.

According to the CDC, the risk of a motor vehicle crash is highest among those in the 16-19 age range than any other age group. Why are teens at a higher risk of being in a car crash?

  • Teens are more likely than older drivers to underestimate dangerous and hazardous situations.
  • Teens are more likely to drive at higher speeds and leave a shorter clearance between vehicles (or “tailgating”).
  • Teens are more likely to make critical decision errors that lead to serious crashes.

The fatal crash rate per mile driven for 16 to 19-year-old children is nearly three times the rate for drivers ages 20 and over. The fatal crash risk is nearly twice as high for 16 to 17-year-olds as 18 to 19-year-olds.


  • Driving with other teenagers increases the crash risk — and the risk increases with each additional passenger.
  • Newly licensed drivers are at a higher risk of crashes, especially during the first few months of licensure.
  • Distracted driving, including interacting with other passengers, cell phone usage, looking at something inside or outside the vehicle, or singing to music.

In addition, young drivers are less likely than adults to drive after drinking alcohol, but their crash risk is substantially higher when they do.


The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study on nearly 1,700 in-vehicle event recorders from teen car accidents. Analyzing the six seconds prior to a crash in these videos revealed that distracted driving in teenage drivers was more serious than originally predicted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Here are some key findings from the AAA’s study:

  • Distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes.
    • This figure is four times as many as originally estimated based on police reports.
  • Distraction played a role in 89 percent of road departure crashes and 76 percent of rear-end crashes.
  • NHTSA estimated that distraction only played a role in 14 percent of all teen driver crashes, well below the percentage discovered by the AAA study.
  • Teen drivers failed to react more than half of the time before a rear-end impact of another vehicle — which means they failed to apply the brakes or steer away.
  • The most common form of distraction was interaction with one or more passengers (15% of crashes) followed by cell phone use (12%) and looking at something in the vehicle (10%).


According to the CDC, there are eight danger zones that are the leading causes of teen car accidents:

  1. Driver inexperience
  2. Driving with teen passengers
  3. Nighttime driving
  4. Not using seat belts
  5. Distracted driving
  6. Drowsy driving
  7. Reckless driving
  8. Impaired driving

Parents can help keep their teenage driver and others on the road safe by addressing each of the danger zones.


If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident involving a teenage driver, or if your teenage child was hurt in an automobile accident, contact Thomas J. Henry. Our experienced motor vehicle accident attorneys are available 24/7, nights and weekends to evaluate your claim. Thomas J. Henry has a proven track record of achieving record-breaking, multi-million dollar verdicts, settlements, and judgments. Don’t wait — contact us today for a free case review.



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