NJM Safety Center - Teen Driving

Common Risks for Teen Drivers

Teens crash for many reasons, but data shows that this age group makes nine common mistakes, sometimes in combination with each other, that can result in deadly consequences. These include:

  1. Overconfidence and an "it can't happen to me" attitude
    Teens tend to overrate their own driving skills, believing that they will be able to handle risky situations. Driver error is a factor in two-thirds of fatal teen crashes.

  2. Failing to buckle up
    Seat belt use among teens is the lowest of any age group. Six out of 10 drivers, aged 16–20, who were killed in crashes in the U.S. were not wearing seatbelts.

  3. Talking on a cell phone or texting
    Teens state cell phone usage is their number one distraction while driving. Using a cell phone when driving is as dangerous as driving intoxicated.

  4. Speeding
    Crash risks increase incrementally with each mile per hour driven over the speed limit. One-third of U.S. teen fatalities involve speeding.

  5. Impaired driving
    Almost half of all traffic fatalities involving 16 to 24 year olds are alcohol-related. Driving while tired is just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.

  6. Passenger distractions
    By carrying just one passenger the risk for a crash increases by 50 percent. With three or more passengers, the risk is nearly four times greater than while driving alone.

  7. Driving at night
    Teens are twice as likely to crash at night (9 p.m.–6 a.m.) than during the day.

  8. Failure to anticipate potential dangers
    Crash rates for newly licensed drivers are highest during the first six months of driving. Lack of experience plays a key role in teen crashes.

  9. Ignoring car maintenance
    Teens are more likely to drive old vehicles, and may be unaware of the importance of routine maintenance or unwilling to make necessary repairs.