Teen motor vehicle crashes can be prevented, and statistics indicate that the annual number of drivers aged 15 to 17 years involved in fatal crashes decreased 48 percent from 2005 to 2014 (Governors Highway Traffic Safety Association (GHSA), 2016). While this is promising, motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death among teens; per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than older drivers to be involved in a fatal crash (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 2017).
Many factors influence teens’ crash risk and likelihood for injury or death. These include driving ability, developmental factors, behavioral factors, personality factors, demographics, the perceived environment, and the driving environment (Shope & Bingham, 2008). For example, due to inexperience, teen drivers are more likely to take unnecessary risks including driving without a seatbelt, driving while distracted (e.g., texting, eating), and speeding.
Situational factors such as driving at night, driving under the influence, and driving with other teenage passengers also place teens at higher risk (IIHS, 2017).2Prevention efforts to minimize the risk of deaths, injuries, and crashes related to teen driving need to be comprehensive and take into account the complex factors that influence driving. Research has indicated that strategies such as stronger seat belt laws and graduated driver licensing (GDL) have been successful in improving teen driver safety (Masten et. al., 2015).