What are the top causes of teen car accidents?

Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 1,717 teens between the ages of 15 and 20 died in teen car accidents nationwide during 2014. An additional 170,000 young people in this age bracket suffered injuries.

Because of these staggering statistics, a number of organizations are working to better understand the top causes of teen car crashes and work on a solution. Their findings include:


The NHTSA reports that distracted driving caused or contributed to 16 percent of car crashes in 2014.

While this number is high enough, a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that almost 60 percent of moderate and severe crashes involving teens occur because of driver distraction. Texting, talking on the phone, tuning the radio, eating, and talking to passengers all play a significant role.


Even after meeting graduated driver’s license requirements, young drivers cannot possibly gain supervised experience with all of the situations they may encounter on Ohio roads.

This inexperience becomes obvious when statistics compare teen crash rates with similar adult crash statistics. For example, data from the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (NMVCCS) shows that teen drivers are almost two and a half times more likely to lose control of their vehicle and crash than adults.

Increased oversight and better driver education programs may help reduce the risk of a crash, but inexperience is probably always going to play a role. Inexperience makes it more difficult to keep control traveling at high speeds, recover from distractions, and avoid accidents caused by other drivers.


Many states limit the number of non-family peer passengers allowed to ride with teen drivers, and for good reason. Driving with friends in the car is especially dangerous because friends are distracting and can — even inadvertently — create social pressure to take risks the driver is not comfortable taking.

An analysis of the NMVCCS dataset found that passenger distraction contributed to almost half of all teen car accidents; moreover, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that the accident risk increases exponentially with each passenger in a teen’s car:

  • 44 percent with one passenger
  • Doubles with two
  • Quadruples with three

Currently, Ohio allows teen drivers to have one non-family passenger in the vehicle.

Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving involves a variety of poor driving habits and actions that can lead to crashes. Many of these are traffic offenses on their own, including speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, and cutting off other drivers.

A 2010 study at the University of Texas’ Cockrell School of Engineering found that younger drivers are much more likely to drive aggressively, leading to more crashes. According to the study, 16- and 17-year-old drivers are 368 percent more likely to exhibit aggressive driving styles than drivers over the age of 65; 18- and 19-year-old drivers are only 195 percent more likely to drive aggressively.


While speeding often falls under aggressive driving, it plays such a significant role in teen car accidents that it needs investigating on its own.

Teens often exceed the speed limit, drive too fast for current road, weather or traffic conditions, and rush to “beat” yellow lights. And many of them do not see any problem with this. A study commissioned by Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD found that, even among teens who described themselves as “safe drivers,” 71 percent admitted to speeding.

Bressman Law Can Help After a Teen Car Accident in Ohio

If you or your child suffered injuries in an Ohio car accident caused by a teen driver, you may be eligible to file a claim to recover compensation that covers your medical bills, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

Bressman Law offers free, no-obligation case evaluations so you can learn more about your legal options. Call us at 877-538-1116 today.