In 2016, teen drivers (ages 16–19 years old) were involved in an estimated 1,053,000 crashes involving nearly 2,864,000 individuals. In these crashes, there were 3,270 fatalities. Therefore, in 2016, for every 10,000 individuals involved in a crash with a teen driver, 11.4 were fatally injured, according to a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report.
Of the 3,270 fatalities, 1,169 (35.7%) were teen drivers, 969 (29.6%) were occupants of other vehicles, 739 (22.6%) were passengers of teen drivers and 379 (11.6%) were nonmotorists (i.e., pedestrians and cyclists). The proportion of fatal injury is relatively similar to the results of a study conducted by the AAA Foundation in 2015 on crashes involving drivers ages 15 to 19.
Gauging the numbers
The fatality rates varied based on the type of individual involved in the crash.
- For every 10,000 teen drivers involved in a crash, roughly 10.5 were fatally injured.
- For the passengers of teen drivers, the rate is higher, with 15.5 deaths per 10,000 passengers involved in these crashes.
- Occupants of other vehicles (not driven by a teen driver) had a fatality rate of 7.7 deaths per 10,000.
- Nonmotorists who were involved in a teen driver-related crash had the highest fatality rate: 443.6 deaths per 10,000 nonmotorists involved.
Plenty of risk, no reward
Three major risk factors that increase the fatality rates in a crash include nighttime driving, speeding and carrying a passenger.
- In 2016, there were 1,125 fatalities in crashes that occurred between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. and involved a teen driver. While there were more teen driver-related crash fatalities during the day (2,128), fatality rates of teen driver-related crashes at night were 3.8 times that of fatality rates of these types of crashes during the day.
- There were 966 fatalities in crashes that involved a speeding teen driver. Overall, in teen driver-related crashes, the fatality rate increased fourfold for crashes involving a speeding teen driver versus crashes in which the teen driver was not speeding (34.8 versus 8.5 deaths per 10,000 individuals involved).
- The presence of teen passengers in teen drivers’ vehicles was associated with an increase in the fatality rate for people involved in a crash. Overall, there was a 51% increase in the rate of fatalities for people involved in a crash with a teen driver carrying only teen passengers compared with crashes in which teen drivers were riding by themselves (14.3 versus 9.5 deaths per 10,000 individuals involved).