Report: Teens are Driving the Riskiest Vehicles

9 Sep 2020

Teenage drivers have a greater crash risk than experienced adults. Community and legislative  outreach techniques have tried to decrease this risk, but were left with mixed results.

Over the past decade, the number of teens in the U.S. killed driving smaller, older vehicles has stayed almost unchanged, according to an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study.

During the years 2013 through 2017, over a quarter of teenage drivers killed in crashes were driving mini, micro or small cars. Almost two-thirds were behind the wheel of 6-15-year old vehicles which indicates nearly no change when you compare it with 2008 through 2012. In both time periods, adults fatally injured crashed in larger, newer vehicles a lot more frequently than teenagers.

The growing presence of fleet vehicle safety features has reduced the fatality numbers in the past decades, but the inconsistency between younger drivers and others stays the same.

Understandably, parent’s don’t want to fork out a lot of money for their teenager’s first vehicle, and they likely don’t know how much safer a larger, newer vehicle is. Small vehicles don’t do as well protecting you in a crash and older vehicles are likely not equipped with the important safety equipment.

A small car’s shorter front end means it’s offering less protection than a bigger one and they absorb more of the force in a collision than a larger vehicle because of their lesser mass. Newer vehicles are also typically much safer than older vehicles since safety technology like electronic stability control and air bags wasn’t that common a decade ago.

Research previously showed teenagers drive less than adult drivers, but still crash around four times as often, relative to how many miles they drive.

A merged analysis of fatal crash data between the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) and Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) compared the vehicle:

  • Size
  • Age
  • Type

The presence of chosen safety features in cars teenagers (ages 15 through 17) and adult drivers (ages 35 through 50) drove who died in crashes between the years 2013 and 2017 were also analyzed. Results were compared with an analysis on 2007 through 2012 data.

Teen drivers continue to be more likely to be killed while they drive smaller, older vehicles than adult drivers. Teen vehicle choice is mainly the responsibility of parents and guardians and they should keep vehicle weight, size and safety features in mind when they buy their teen a car.

Another important thing parents can do is use GPS teen tracking to help them monitor risky driving, speeding, aggressive braking and going out of set boundaries.


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