Eight Driving Danger Zones for Teen Drivers

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. However, there are ways to help them become a safe driver and prevent or reduce these deaths and injuries. One way is to make sure your teen driver knows the risk factors and is aware of the eight danger zones (from the CDC) that can cause a teen driver to crash.

Driver Inexperience – Danger Zone #1

The crash risk for a teen driver is highest in the first year they have their license, especially the first several months. Teens are not as familiar with the rules of the road, may not understand or pay attention to blind spots and are more likely to not recognize dangerous situations.

Teens should obtain as many hours of supervised driving practice as possible during this time period practicing on different types of roads during different times of day and in different weather.

eight danger zones teen driver to crash distracted teen driver teen passengers

Driving with a Teen or Young Adult Passenger – Danger Zone #2

The crash risk goes up when teens drive with other teens or young adults in the car. Studies show that a teen’s chances of getting into an accident increase with each additional teen passenger in the car.

Limit your teen to just one teen or young adult passenger. The best practice, however, is to not have any other teen passengers for at least the first six months after they get their license.

Nighttime and Weekend Driving – Danger Zone #3

Fatal crashes are more likely to occur at night and is a greater risk for teens. The fatal crash rate at night among teen drivers (ages 16-19) is about 3 times as high as that of adult drivers (ages 30-59) per mile driven. In 2020, 44% of motor vehicle crash deaths among teens ages 13-19 occurred between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. and 50% occurred on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

Teen drivers should be off the road by 9 or 10 p.m. the first 6 months of licensed driving and should practice nighttime driving with their parents or another experienced driver.

Not Using Seat Belts – Danger Zone #4

Teen drivers do not always consistently wear a seat belt, but this is the simplest and easiest way to prevent car crash injuries and death. Teens should wear a seat belt whether they are the driver or passenger.

  • In 2020, among teen drivers and passengers ages 16-19 who were killed in car crashes, 56% were not wearing a seat belt.

Distracted Driving – Danger Zone #5

Distractions of all kinds increase your teen’s risk of being in a crash. This includes adjusting the dials on the dashboard, eating, using the GPS and texting, emailing and talking.

Cell phones are the most significant contributor to a driver’s inattention to his vehicle and others on the road. Best advice is to turn the phone off and put it out of reach while driving.

teen driver drowsy driver risk factorsDrowsy Driving – Danger Zone #6

Teens are typically most tired and at risk when driving in the early morning or late at night.

  • Young drivers are responsible for about five in ten car crashes caused by drowsiness.

Reckless Driving – Danger Zone #7

Research shows that teens lack the experience, judgment, and maturity to assess risky situations. Make sure teen drivers know to follow the speed limit and to adjust speed to match road, traffic, and weather conditions and maintain enough space behind the vehicle ahead to avoid a crash in case of a sudden stop.

Impaired Driving – Danger Zone #8

Drinking any amount of alcohol before driving increases a crash risk among teen drivers. They have a higher risk of being involved in a crash than older drivers at the same blood alcohol concentration (BAC)

  • 29% of drivers ages 15–20 who were killed in motor vehicle crashes had been drinking (based on 2020 data)
  • 17% of drivers ages 15–20 who were involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes had a BAC of 0.08% or higher—a level that is illegal for adults in all U.S. states

Impaired driving includes all types of substances, alcohol, marijuana, other illicit drugs, prescription meds and over-the-counter medications.

Quick Teen Driving Facts

  • Every year, teens account for around 500,000 car crashes in the US
  • In 2019, over four in ten fatal teen crashes happened 9 pm–6 am
  • In 2019, around 7% of all car crash fatalities were teenagers
  • Over 2,350 teens died in car crashes in 2019
  • More than 66% of teen motor vehicle crash fatalities were male in 2019
  • Over 55% of teenage drivers admit to talking on the phone while driving
  • In 2019, 17% of fatal accidents in teens aged 16–17 involved drinking alcohol

Source: CarSurance



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If your teen driver has been seriously injured in an accident. contact the Kansas City-based law firm of Nash & Franciskato at (877) 284-6600.. One of our experienced staff will speak with you personally and provide you with a free, no-obligation case evaluation.



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