The US States With The Riskiest Teenage Drivers

Luke Fitzpatrick
Manhattan, New YorkPhoto by Florian Wehde on Unsplash

Nearly every teenager in American cannot wait until the day that they are allowed to start driving, but that enthusiasm doesn’t always translate to safety. Teenage drivers are often assumed to be bad drivers, and sometimes, that’s true.

According to the CDC, drivers that are aged 16 to 19 are three times more likely to be involved in an accident than older drivers. Laws governing when teenagers can drive and how they must learn to drive differ from state to state, leading to differences in the driving risk for teens.

Do you know which US states have the riskiest teenage drivers?

Top 15 US states with the riskiest teen drivers

Which states are home to the riskiest teen drivers? Ranking in the top fifteen, in order, are the following states:

  1. South Dakota
  2. Arkansas
  3. Louisiana
  4. Montana
  5. Kansas
  6. Nebraska
  7. Mississippi
  8. Alabama
  9. California
  10. Arizona
  11. North Dakota
  12. Missouri
  13. Florida
  14. Colorado
  15. Iowa

Where does the data come from?

This research was gathered and analyzed based on a survey of students in the US done by the CDC. This information was combined with information from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The rankings were determined based on three metrics in the CDC’s questionnaire:

  1. Percentage of teens that don’t or rarely wear a seatbelt
  2. Percentage of teens that drink and drive
  3. Percent of teens that text or use their phones while driving

By looking at these dangerous activities, the states were able to be ranked. Does this data mean that teenage drivers in Florida are the 13th riskiest and are thus always going to get into an accident? No, but it does mean that teens in these states need to be further educated on driving safety.

Why are teens high-risk drivers?

Seeing this data, you might wonder what exactly leads to teens being high-risk drivers. Studies have been done nationwide to break down what leads teen drivers to be riskier drivers than those older and more experienced.

1. They are still learning

The number one reason teenager drivers are riskier drivers is that they are still learning the ways of the road. Even if they have passed their license and permit tests, there are still many real-world instances that they need to learn from. This inexperience will take time to turn into experience and knowledge.

2. They aren’t always responsible

Teen drivers are not always responsible. Sometimes, they will make irresponsible decisions because they have other priorities. For example, they may decide to speed because they want to get somewhere quickly without considering the dangers of that action. Teens are more likely to fall into this trap than more experienced drivers.

Many teens make the choice to drink and then drive, which is the cause of many serious or deadly accidents. Additionally, teens will often decide to drive without their seatbelt on. Not having a seatbelt on increases the risk of serious injury if an accident were to occur.

3. They are easily distracted

Teens are more likely to be distracted by their passengers or their cell phones while driving than other vehicles. Distracted driving is one of the biggest causes of accidents for drivers of all ages, and teens are especially susceptible to this.

With experience, it becomes harder to be distracted from driving because driving is more of a practised skill than something that needs to be heavily focused on.

Don’t forget teenage car insurance

The teenage car insurance average cost in many states is higher than the cost to cover more experienced drivers, and this is because of the risk factor involved. All insurance costs are based on risk. If an insurance company believes that a particular driver will be riskier than the average driver, their rates will be higher.

One common way to find discounts for teen car insurance is to add a teenager driver to their parent’s plan rather than setting them up with their own plan. This acts as a sort of insurance against their risk factor and allows companies to offer lower premiums.

No matter how you have to find teenage car insurance, teenagers must have proper insurance coverage. Not only is it required for all drivers to have insurance coverage, but these high-risk drivers need to have the comprehensive coverage necessary in case of an accident.

Keep your teen safe

Recently, there have been fewer teen drivers on the streets. Still, teenage drivers that make it to the roads need to be completely educated about safety. Then, they need to be given time to learn how to make the right decisions while driving.

Even teens that are fully educated and well-tested on driving safety may not have the motor skills and reflexes necessary to be as good of a driver as more experienced drivers. The only thing that can build those skills is more time on the roads. Until then, teens need to be hypervigilant.

Parents that have teenagers should work with their teens to continually reinforce and reward good driving skills. In the long run, that commitment to safety will pay off.

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Academic Speaker | Freelance Journalist | I have contributed to a variety of publications such as Forbes, Tech In Asia, and The Next Web. I cover a variety of topics ranging from fintech, big data, AI, blockchain, to lifestyle and breaking news stories.


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