Teens Are At Risk

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States.
  • In 2003, 5,240 teens were killed in passenger-vehicle crashes, and 458,000 teens were injured.
  • Sixty-three percent of the fatally injured 16-to-20-year-old passenger vehicle occupants were unrestrained, compared to 55 percent for adults 21 or older.
  • In 2003, the fatality rate (per 100,000 population) in motor vehicle crashes for 16-to-20-year-olds was more than twice the rate than for all other ages combined (25.7 versus 11.4 respectively).
  • From 1997 to 2003, the fatality rate (per 100,000 population) in motor vehicle crashes for 16-to-20-year-olds was approximately seven times the rate for 8-to-15-year-olds.
  • Drivers are less likely to use restraints when they have been drinking. In 2003, 65 percent of the young drivers (15 to 20 years old) of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes who had been drinking were unrestrained. Of the young drivers who had been drinking and were killed in crashes, 74 percent were unrestrained.
  • During 2003, a teen died in a traffic crash an average of once every hour on weekends (weekends are defined as 6 p.m. Friday through 5:59 a.m. Monday) and nearly once every two hours during the week.
  • In 2003, 34 percent (1,782) of fatally injured teens were completely or partially ejected from a passenger vehicle, compared with 27 percent of those fatally injured for all ages combined.
  • Male teens are less likely to wear safety belts than female teens. In 2003, a greater number of males (7.7 percent) reported they were likely to rarely or never use safety belts when driving compared with females (2.8 percent). More males (26.4 percent) than females (23.6 percent) also reported that they had not worn their safety belts within the past week.
  • A recent medical study examined motor vehicle fatality exposure rates and found the rate at which African American and Hispanic male teenagers (13 to 19 years old) are fatally injured in a motor vehicle crash is nearly twice as high as the comparable rate for white male teenagers.