July 5, 2022

2022 Teen Driver Car Crash Statistics

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that teens driving Oldsmobiles, Chryslers, or Pontiacs were most likely to be injured in crashes.

2022 Teen Driver Car Crash Statistics -

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), seven teenagers are killed in car crashes nearly every day.1 That adds up to more than 2,400 teenagers lost each year, in addition to many more who are seriously injured in crashes.

While we know that teen drivers are at a higher risk of accidents than older, more experienced drivers, are there factors that make some teens more likely than others to be involved in a crash?

In order to find out, we analyzed data on drivers aged 16-19 from the Crash Report Sampling System (CRSS) from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The data reveal which teens drivers are at greatest risk for crashes and what cars are most often involved in crashes.

Key Findings

  • Among all teen drivers, male drivers and 19-year-old drivers were most likely to be involved in car crashes.
  • Teenage car crashes were most common in the late afternoon, peaking between the hours of 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.
  • 35% of all teen crashes are rear-end collisions, signifying that distracted driving is likely a major factor in crashes.
  • While alcohol and drugs were not factors in most teen driver crashes, teenage boys were twice as likely as teenage girls to have been under the influence when they crashed.
    Teen drivers involved in crashes while driving Oldsmobile, Chrysler, and Pontiac cars were most likely to have been injured. Three of the five most dangerous models for teen drivers were subcompact or compact cars.

Males More Likely to Crash Than Other Teens

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 are three times as likely to be involved in a deadly crash versus drivers aged 20 or older.2 Among all teen drivers, however, crashes are most frequent among 19-year-olds and boys, according to our analysis of CRSS data.

Percentage of crashes involving teen drivers

Percentage of crashes involving male or female by age

Young male drivers may be more at risk for crashes because they participate more frequently in aggressive driving compared to young female drivers. When teens drive with their peers, these chances are even higher: aggressive driving occurs three times as often when a girl is riding in the car with a male teen driver than when teen boys are driving alone.3 This risk is also slightly higher when there’s another boy in the car with a male driver. These figures show that teenage boys may tend to show off or attempt to look cool in front of their peers while driving, both of which can lead to an accident.

Both adult and teen men regularly pay more for car insurance than women. They tend to pose a higher risk for insurance companies than women because of their higher fatality rates, higher DUI rates, and greater likelihood of being stopped by police for traffic violations.

Teen Crashes Most Likely to Occur in the Afternoon Hours

The CRSS data revealed that the most frequent time for teen driver accidents is between 2:00 and 6:00 pm. This is commonly the time that teenage drivers are leaving school, and it coincides with peak hours for commuters driving home from work.

Top times for teen car crashes

When roadways are more congested during rush hours, there are more distractions and obstacles for young drivers to navigate. Here are a few simple ways to ensure a safer drive on the way to or from school and work:

  • Before starting the engine, teens should check their vehicle’s tire pressure and adjust mirrors to provide maximum visibility.
  • Young drivers should avoid all distractions. They should refrain from eating at the wheel, sending texts or making calls, and transporting rowdy passengers.
  • Keeping a wide following distance from other vehicles can reduce the risk of rear-ending crashes. Young drivers should be patient and avoid tailgating especially when waiting in lines to leave school parking lots.
  • Teen drivers should remember to take their time and plan a few extra minutes to their routes. It’s okay to slow down, allowing for more reaction time if an obstacle suddenly appears.

Distracted Driving is a Top Concern for Teens

Distracted driving is a major problem for drivers of all ages, but today’s teen drivers have additional distractions vying for their attention that generations past did not have to face. In fact, the CRSS data showed that 35 percent of all teen driver crashes were front-to-rear (rear-ending) crashes,4 which are often caused by distractions or following too closely.

Whether they are stressed about school performance or dealing with issues at home, teenagers can have trouble focusing on what’s going on in front of them. When technology and friends are added into the mix, the distractions only become more severe.

A recent Autoinsurance.com study found that 45 percent of teens had texted while driving within the last week. Though texting while driving is common, it can greatly increase the likelihood of crashing. Drivers of all ages should remember that there’s nothing happening on social media or text that is as important as staying focused and staying alive.

Having passengers in the vehicle can also create distractions and crashes. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Study found that the likelihood of crashes among 16- and 17-year-old drivers:

  • Increased 44 percent when carrying a single passenger younger than 21.
  • Doubled when carrying two passengers younger than 21 without an older adult present.
  • Quadrupled when carrying three or more passengers under the age of 21, without an older adult present.
  • Decreased 62 percent when a passenger aged 35 or older is in the vehicle.5

For each additional passenger under age 21 that rides with a young driver, the risk of an accident increases significantly. Does this mean that teenagers shouldn’t be allowed to have passengers? This is a question that only parents are able to answer, in accordance with the laws in their state.

Audi, Volvo, and Cadillac Among Cars With Fewest Teen Driver Injuries

According to the CDC, automobile crashes injure more than 250,000 teens each year and are the second leading cause of death for this age group. While we found that 74 percent of teens had no reported injuries after accidents, more than a quarter of teen crashes do lead to injuries, which is significant.

Of course, drivers’ skills are paramount to safety on the road, but vehicles must also be evaluated to keep passengers as safe as possible.

What’s a Critical Safety Rating?

Every car undergoes extensive crash testing and rating from both the NHTSA and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. These crash tests look for the possibility of injuries and any structural weakness of the car that could pose threats to passengers. Before purchasing any vehicle, it’s best to examine these crash test ratings to ensure vehicle safety.

According to the data we analyzed, there are five car brands that seem to have a higher instance of injuries following a teen car crash. The brand associated with the greatest likelihood of crash injuries was Oldsmobile. About 17 percent of teens who crashed while driving an Oldsmobile had injuries. Chrysler, Pontiac, Chevrolet and Honda followed closely behind Oldsmobile.

Top 5 car makes for injuries

Three of the top five brands on this list are or were owned by General Motors: Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and Chevrolet. However, it’s important to note that Oldsmobile and Pontiac cars have been discontinued since 2004 and 2010, respectively. This means that the models still on the road today are older and likely have fewer technological and safety advances than cars produced more recently.

Some cars are considered unsafe because of structural deficiencies, while older cars may have fewer technologies such as lane-keeping assist or blind spot detection that could help reduce crashes. Manufacturer negligence can lead to safety problems. For instance, Chrysler had to pay for failing to recall unsafe cars in 2015.8

Top car models for injuries

Three of the five car models that were associated with injuries in teen driver crashes were compact or subcompact cars. Though small cars are attractive due to their fuel efficiency and overall costs, they aren’t the safest cars. Unfortunately, according to the IIHS, drivers are more likely to die in a compact car than a larger car. Large SUVs had the lowest overall death rate in recent studies from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

On the other hand, there are several car brands that seem to do a better job of protecting occupants than others. According to CRSS data, 83 percent of teens involved in crashes with Audi cars had no apparent injuries. Around 81 percent of those driving Volvos or Cadillacs (another General Motors company) also had no reported injuries from their crashes.

Car makes with fewest injuries in teen driver accidents

All of these top-rated brands have earned either five-star NHTSA ratings on multiple models or have cars that are IIHS Top Safety Picks. These brands are also committed to supplying the latest driver-assist technology. However, you still have to do your research among various models, as every manufacturer can have some in their offerings that don’t measure up.

Car models with fewest injuries

Most of the five models with fewest injuries were SUVs, which means they have a larger size and are higher from the ground. Research shows these cars tend to be safer than smaller cars in a crash. This may make them more popular with teen drivers and their parents.

Conclusion

It’s vitally important for parents of teen drivers to equip them with the necessary tools to avoid accidents and injury. Whether they choose to enroll them in a defensive driving course or set up a secondary driving system to limit distractions, such as those provided in many newer cars, parents can help protect their kids on the road. Knowing the biggest pitfalls can help them devise a plan that protects their children on the road.

Our Data

We analyzed data from the Crash Report Sampling System (CRSS) from the United States Department of Transportation (DoT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Our analysis focused on crashes that involved drivers aged 16-19, and included incidents that occurred between 2016-2020. This data set is representative of crashes that occur across the U.S., but it only includes those accidents that involved police. According to the NHTSA, the CRSS is a “sample of police-reported crashes involving all types of motor vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists, ranging from property-damage-only crashes to those that result in fatalities.”

Citations

  1. Transportation Safety: Get the Facts. CDC. (2022).
    https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/teen_drivers/teendrivers_factsheet.html

  2. Fatality Facts 2020: Teenagers. IIHS. (2022, May).
    https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/teenagers

  3. How Gender Affects the Behavior of Teen Drivers. The Atlantic. (2014, April).
    https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/04/how-gender-affects-the-behavior-of-teen-drivers/359979/

  4. Crash Report Sampling System. NHTSA. (2022).
    https://www.nhtsa.gov/crash-data-systems/crash-report-sampling-system

  5. Teen Driver Risk in Relation to Age and Number of Passengers. AAA. (2012, May).
    https://aaafoundation.org/teen-driver-risk-relation-age-number-passengers/

  6. Driving While High: Why Marijuana and Driving are a Dangerous Mix. HealthyChildren.org. (2020, February).
    https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/substance-abuse/Pages/Driving-While-High-a-Dangerous-Mix.aspx

  7. Car Crash Deaths Involving Cannabis on the Rise. Boston University. (2021, November).
    https://www.bu.edu/sph/news/articles/2021/car-crash-deaths-involving-cannabis-on-the-rise/

  8. Fiat Chrysler faces record fines for failing to recall unsafe cars. PBS. (2015, July).
    https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/fiat-chrysler-faces-record-fines-failing-recall-cars