Teenagers and crashes

What is the number one cause of death among teenagers in BC? Car crashes.

16 to 20 year olds in BC car crashes

54 are killed each year.

Over 70% of those killed are male.

Thousands more are injured, many are injured seriously.

New drivers in BC car crashes

Drivers in the (N) novice stage of the Graduated Licensing program (GLP) are over-represented in crashes. They are almost 45% more likely to be involved in a crash than experienced drivers.2 Crashes among new drivers tend to be more severe. One in four crashes involving GLP drivers results in an injury or fatality.

Teenage drivers are overrepresented in car crashes and fatalities.

16 to 20 year olds represent 6.6% of all licensed drivers in BC, but they account for 14% of all drivers involved in a crash. Drivers 16 to 19 years of age in Canada have a fatality rate more than four times as high as that of drivers aged 25 to 34 and nine times as high as that of drivers aged 45 to 54.4

Why do teenagers crash?

Young drivers crash because they are relatively inexperienced and unskilled in driving. This inexperience puts teenagers at greater risk, particularly in more challenging situations and when their attention is distracted away from the task of driving. According to recent studies:

In the US, over one third of deaths of 16 and 17-year-old drivers occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., despite relatively little driving during these hours.

 In the US, nearly half of 16 and 17-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes are carrying at least one passenger under 

21 and no adult passengers.4

 The risk of crashing when using a cell phone is four times higher than the risk when a cell phone is not being used.5

 In BC, almost one quarter of fatal crashes involve alcohol. Young male drivers are predominately responsible for 

these crashes. That’s why BC’s graduated Licensing program includes restrictions on passengers and has zero 

tolerance for alcohol for driver’s in the Learner’s (L) and Novice (N) stage. The Learner’s (L) stage also includes night time restrictions.

Teenage drivers put other road users at risk when they crash.

The majority of fatalities in crashes involving 15 to 17-year-old drivers are not the teenage driver themselves, according to a recent study:

 Only 36% of those killed are the teenage driver themselves. 64% of those killed are others, including:

- 32% are passengers in the teenage driver’s vehicle.

- 24 % are occupants of other vehicles operated by drivers at least 18 years old.

- 8% are pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users.

Teenage passengers are particularly at risk.

Canadian teenagers 15 to 19 years old represent less than 7% of the total population.  BUT, they represent 19% of all passenger fatalities and 19% of all serious injuries to passengers in Canada.6

Parents can impact teenager’s crash rates.

Parents of crash-involved teenagers are more likely to have a poor driving record than those of crash-free teens. They have had more crashes and received more tickets. Studies show that when parents set boundaries and take an active role in their teenager’s driving education, the teenager’s chances of being in a crash are reduced by up to a third.

References  BC Traffic Collision Statistics: 2001 to 2005, averages, available at www.icbc.com 2 ICBC website, www.icbc.com 3 BC Traffic Collision Statistics: 2001 to 2005, averages, available at www.icbc.com 4 Reducing the Crash Risk for Young Drivers, prepared by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 2006. 5 Traffic Injury Research Foundation website, www.trafficinjuryresearch.com 6 Canadian Motor Vehicle Traffic Collision Statistics: 2005, Transport Canada. http://www.bcaa.com/road-safety/resources/teen-drivers/teenagers-and-crashes