Teen driver inexperience, coupled with immaturity, often results in risk-taking behaviors such as speeding, alcohol use and not wearing a seat belt—all of which contribute to an increased death rate. In fact, teen drivers have crash rates three times those of drivers age 20 and older per mile driven. In 2014, 1,678 drivers 16 to 20 years old died in crashes. Another 581 passengers in that same age range were killed when riding with their peers.1
Mission Not Accomplished: Teen Safe Driving, the Next Chapter
Published October 2016
This report looks at 10 years of teen driver-involved crash data to understand the challenges surrounding teen driving behavior and provides 11 policy and best practice recommendations for states to implement. Learn More
Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL)
To keep teen drivers safer on the roads, all states have enacted Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws that phase in driving privileges. Experts agree that a well-designed GDL program includes:
Learner's state beginning no earlier than age 16 and:
- Lasting at least 6 months
- With at least 30-50 hours of parent-certified supervised practice
- Intermediate stage that lasts until at least age 18 and includes:
- Nighttime driving restriction starting at 9:00 or 10:00 p.m.
- No (or no more than one) teen passengers
- A ban on all cell phone use and electronic communication devices
Research has shown significant reductions in deaths were associated with GDL laws that included age requirements, a waiting period of at least three months before the intermediate stage, a restriction on nighttime driving, 30 or more hours of supervised driving and a restriction on carrying passengers or the number and age of passengers carried.
Learn More About Teen Driver Safety
In addition to laws, parents also play a key role in helping teens become good drivers. Parents should not rely solely on driver education classes to teach good driving habits and should restrict night driving, restrict the numbers of passengers riding with their teen, supervise practice driving, alway require use of seat belts and choose vehicles for safety, not image. Parents can also set a good example by practicing safe driving themselves.
Ford Driving Skills for Life
To supplement driver education, GHSA and the Ford Motor Company developed Ford Driving Skills for Life (FDSFL), an innovative program that teaches newly licensed teens the necessary skills for safe driving beyond what they learn in standard driver education programs.
Global Youth Traffic Safety Month™
National Teen Driver Safety Week
Congress has designated the third week in October National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW). Its mission is to bring teens, community leaders, educators, and parents together to take action and increase awareness to help prevent teen crashes, the leading cause of death for American teens.
Many State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) plan activities specific to NTDSW. Others have year-long programs focusing on teen belt use, graduated licensing and underage drinking. GHSA, through its partnership with the Ford Driving Skills for Life program, uses the week as a vehicle for promoting safe teen driving.
1 National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2015, November). 2014 Crash Data Key Findings (Traffic Safety Facts Crash•Stats. Report No. DOT HS 812 219). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812219.pdf
Excerpted from GHSA's Highway Safety Policies & Priorities [115 KB, 27 pgs.]
N. Driver Licensing and Education
N.3 Graduated Driver Licensing for Novice Drivers
GHSA supports graduated driver licensing for novice drivers, particularly teenaged drivers. Recognizing that driving is a complex task and that skills increase with experience, GHSA encourages all states and jurisdictions to enact a 3-staged graduated driver’s license legislation and implement a graduated driver’s license program that includes such components as: a specific minimum age for a learner’s permit, a provisional permit that is granted several months after the learner’s permit and before a full license; mandatory on-the-road driving that supplements driver education/training during the learner phase; adult supervision of learners; nighttime driving restrictions; mandatory safety belt use; restricted number of passengers; distinctive provisional driver’s license; zero tolerance for alcohol; and license suspension for any impaired driving conviction or implied consent refusal. GHSA encourages the federal government to conduct research on the appropriate age for a learner’s permit, an intermediate license and full licensure so that there is better evidence for basing driver age decisions at the state level than currently available.
O. Driver Safety Issues
O.3 Young Adult Drivers
GHSA recognizes that the 21-34 year old age group is over-represented in traffic crashes and is one of the highest risk-taking group of drivers. GHSA supports all efforts to identify causes and implement appropriate countermeasures, including enforcement and education, to reach this special target population and to reduce its involvement in traffic crashes.