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Teen drivers are one of the highest-risk groups on the road. Young drivers are more likely to make mistakes from inexperience, get distracted by devices or other passengers, or engage in risky behaviors like speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, or drinking and driving.
In recent decades, more states have implemented policy change in an effort to reduce risks for teen drivers and those who share the road with them. Most notably, states have adopted graduated licensing systems that progressively scale up young drivers’ privileges on the road as they get more experience behind the wheel. States have also introduced stronger laws on the use of seatbelts, mobile devices, and substances, which apply to all motorists but are particular risk factors for teens.
Recent years have shown a marked decline in teen vehicle fatalities as a result of these reforms. In 2005, a total of 4,874 teens were killed in a vehicle crash. By 2019, that figure had fallen by more than half, to 2,165. However, there remains a significant gap between male and female fatalities: in 2019, the number of male fatalities (1,450) was over twice as high as the number of female fatalities (715) for teens aged 15 to 19.