The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16-19-year-olds than among any other age group. In fact, per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.
Among teen drivers, those at especially high risk for motor vehicle crashes are:
- Males: In 2016, the motor vehicle death rate for male drivers and passengers ages 16 to 19 was two times that of their female counterparts.
- Teens driving with teen passengers: The presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers. This risk increases with the number of teen passengers.
- Newly licensed teens: Crash risk is particularly high during the first months of licensure. The fatal crash rate per mile driven is nearly twice as high for 16-17 year olds as compared to 18-19 year olds.
Based on the stage of their brain development, adolescents are more likely to:
- act on impulse
- misread or misinterpret social cues and emotions
- get into accidents of all kinds
- get involved in fights
- engage in dangerous or risky behavior
Adolescents are less likely to:
- think before they act
- pause to consider the consequences of their actions
- change their dangerous or inappropriate behaviors
These brain differences don’t mean that young people can’t make good decisions or tell the difference between right and wrong. It also doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be held responsible for their actions.