Throughout the U.S. drinking alcohol is against the law for anyone under 21 years of age. The drinking age, however, had not prevented people under 21 from disobeying and drinking, nor has it stopped them from getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or other substances. According to teen car accident statistics from the Center for Disease Control, 2650 teens between 16 and 19 were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2011, with another 292,000 receiving emergency room treatment due to crash injuries. Further teen driver statistics from the CDC points out that motor vehicle crashes happen most to people between 16-19, which is more often than other age groups. Teen drivers in this group are three times more likely to be in a fatal crash than drivers 20 years old or older.
Age isn’t the only factor in these crashes. Male drivers and passengers in this age group experience twice the fatalities as females. Who is in the car matters too. The more teens that are riding in the vehicle, especially without supervision, the more likely it is that a crash will occur. Teens with a new license are also at a higher risk of being involved in a crash.
Drinking and Driving is Still a Problem
Legal or not, the reality is that many teens drink. A 2013 survey showed that half of all 10th graders admitted that they drank alcohol. Across the US, licensed drivers under 21 are responsible for 17% of fatal alcohol-related crashes, even though only 10% of licensed drivers are under 21.
Teenaged drivers and their passengers are hurt and/or killed in motor vehicle accidents for a number of reasons. They are less likely than other age groups to wear seatbelts, and they also fall prey to distractions such as cell phone use and texting. Although distracted driving has received a lot of much-needed attention, it is important not to forget that drinking and driving is still a major contributor to teen car accidents. For example, it was found that male drivers between 15-20 who were in fatal crashes in 2012, were speeding 37% of the time and had been drinking a quarter of the time.
Many teens are not as careful about riding with impaired drivers as they should be, A 2013 national survey revealed that over the last month, 22% had ridden in a car with someone who had been drinking. In the same month, 10% of students that drove admitted to drinking and driving.