Young Driver Safety: The Truth Behind The Statistics

Learning to drive is one of the most exciting prospects for young people. Gaining your license gives you freedom and independence, but it can also put you at risk. Injuries caused by road accidents are the most common cause of death in the US among young people aged between 5 and 29 years old. In this guide to young driver safety, we’ll outline the most common causes of crashes and share tips and advice to help drivers in their teens and twenties stay safe. 

What causes accidents among young drivers?

In 2019 alone, CDC figures suggest that over 2,300 teenagers were killed in road accidents. Car crash injuries are the second most common cause of teen deaths and the most common cause of deaths in 5-29-year-olds. Young drivers are at risk due to inexperience, but most accidents are preventable. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), up to 96% of accidents are avoidable. 

The most common causes of accidents involving young drivers include:

Distracted driving

Distracted driving poses risks for all drivers, but it can be particularly hazardous for young people due to a lack of experience. Most people under the age of 30 have grown up with phones and mobile devices, which provide 24-hour access to the Internet and social networks. A national survey of high school drivers conducted in 2019 revealed that almost 40% had sent emails or text messages while driving in the 30-day period before the study. Distracted driving affects your ability to react to changing scenarios and hazards that emerge or develop suddenly. If you’re on your phone, or you’re talking to people, you may not be able to react fast enough if you need to brake quickly or steer the car away from trouble. 


Statistically, younger drivers are more likely to exceed the speed limit than older drivers, according to the CDC. Over 30% of male drivers aged 17-20 involved in fatal accidents in 2019 were driving too fast at the time of the crash. As well as speeding, young drivers are also more likely to leave a smaller gap between their car and the vehicle in front. This increases the risk of collisions. 

Drinking alcohol

Young drivers are more likely to crash than older drivers with the same blood alcohol concentration. It is illegal to drink alcohol under the age of 21 and it is also illegal to drink and drive at any age. If you cause an accident while under the influence, you will be held liable and other road users have the right to pursue a claim through a car accident lawyer. You could be banned from driving and your negligence could cause serious injuries to others. If you are over the legal drinking age and you want to have a few beers or glasses of wine, arrange for a non-drinker to take you home, hire a taxi, or take the bus or train. Drinking affects reaction times, judgment and alertness. Even a very small quantity of alcohol can put you and other drivers and pedestrians at risk. 

Safety tips for young drivers

Driving safely is the best way to lower the risk of car accidents and serious injuries. Here are some top tips to take on board when you get behind the wheel:

Pay attention to speed restrictions

When you are driving, you should always be aware of speed restrictions. Make sure you are driving at the right speed for the road and the conditions. If you drive too fast, you run the risk of getting into trouble with the police and you’ll also put yourself and other people at risk. If it’s raining heavily, there is a lot of traffic, or visibility is poor, slow down. 

Gain as much experience as possible

Experience is incredibly valuable for drivers. The more you drive, the better you get. You learn to identify and respond to hazards, different routes become more familiar and you get used to being around other vehicles and road users. Try to gain as much experience as possible and drive in different settings and conditions. It’s particularly beneficial to practise in wet weather, drive in the dark and get some experience on busy highways. 

Always wear a seatbelt

Teenagers and young adults have the lowest rates of seat belt use. Wearing a seat belt can save your life and reduce the risk of life-threatening, debilitating injuries. Even if you are only going around the corner to a friend’s house, make sure you have your belt on. Statistics show that almost 50% of drivers aged between 16 and 19 who were killed in road accidents in 2019 were not wearing a seat belt. 

Focus on the road

Whenever you drive, it’s crucial to focus on the road at all times. You should be looking at the road ahead and checking your mirrors, and your hands should be on the steering wheel. If you’re concentrating, you will be able to spot hazards faster and respond accordingly. If you’re distracted, you may not be able to react fast enough to prevent a crash. 

Check the weather conditions

The weather can cause havoc for drivers, particularly those with limited experience. If you have a journey planned, always check the forecast before you set off. Avoid traveling if there are warnings in place. Consider delaying your journey if it’s raining heavily, it’s snowing or there is thick fog. It’s better to wait and travel when conditions are better than to put yourself at risk. If the roads are icy or wet, adjust your stopping distance, slow down and give other vehicles extra time and space. 

The statistics for young driver accidents make for difficult reading. If you’ve recently got your license, or you’re heading off to college and driving in different places, it’s essential to be aware of the risks. Drive carefully, respect other road users and pay attention to the rules of the road. Check speed restrictions, avoid distractions, don’t drink or take drugs and drive and always wear a seat belt. Take extra care in the winter and look out for warnings from authorities.