The fact that teens are letting safety concerns impact their decision to drive (or not) shows some consideration and awareness of the dangers that new drivers face.
Typically, it’s the other way around. Research has shown that youthful lack of judgment is what makes teens the riskiest category of drivers on the road. Let’s take a look at the numbers:
- Teen drivers (age 16-19) are nearly three times more likely to be in a fatal crash than drivers age 20 or older, according to the CDC.
- 75.8% of all teen-involved car crashes were caused by the teen driver making an error, according to a 2011 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of those errors, 60% involved teens failing to adequately observe their surroundings, being distracted, or driving too fast.
- Novice teen drivers have higher crash rates than novice adult drivers. In 2017, a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study found that new drivers age 21 and older got in more crashes than their more experienced peers, but they had a far fewer crashes compared to novice drivers aged 17-20.
These and other alarming findings over the years have prompted lawmakers in every state to adopt Graduated Drivers License (GDL) laws to make teen driving safer. The rules, which vary state to state, set training requirements for teen drivers and limit risks like night driving, using a phone or device while driving, and having other teen passengers in the car.
The first GDL laws rolled out in the mid-1990s, starting with Florida. That means the parents of today’s teens (the majority of whom are age 35-55) were among the first drivers to hit the road under these new restrictions. This may contribute to parents’ greater awareness of teen driving risks.