Get the Facts About Sixteen and Seventeen Year-Old Drivers in New York State

  • Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death involving teens.
  • Every day, approximately 8 teen drivers in New York are treated at a hospital due to vehicle crashes. This number would fill close to 100 high school classrooms.
  • Injuries to teen drivers result in $30 million in annual hospital charges in New York State.

Leading Causes of Death Among Teens Aged 16-17

New York State, 2007
Leading Causes of Death - Teens Aged 16-17
Causes Percentages
Motor Vehicle 29%
Homicide 23%
Suicide 11%
Malignant Neoplasms 10%
All Other 27%
WISQARS™ - Data Source: National Center for Health Statisitics

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death involving teens. During 2007, the motor vehicle crashes accounted for 29 percent of deaths among teens 16-17 years old.

  • Teen driving affects everyone!

    Almost three-quarters of the crash deaths involving New York State teen drivers were to someone other than the driver.

  • Who is most at risk?

    • Male drivers are more likely to be involved, seriously hurt, or fatally injured in a crash than their female counterparts.
    • Newly licensed teens – the crash risk is particularly high during the first year of unsupervised driving.
  • What factors place teen drivers and their passengers at high risk for crashes?

    • Driver inexperience. Teens are more likely to underestimate dangerous situations and less likely to recognize hazardous situations when driving.
    • Risk taking. Teens are more likely to take risks while driving in response to their emotions, stress, and peer pressure. In addition, the use of alcohol and recreational drugs can impair driving ability.
    • Driving conditions. Teens tend to drive more frequently under higher risk conditions, such as at night and/or without seatbelts increasing crash and injury risk.
    • Driving distractions. The presence of teen passengers increases crash risk. This risk increases with the number of teen passengers riding in the vehicle. Almost one-half of the passengers killed or injured in crashes involving teen drivers were 16-17 years old, followed by children ages 7-15.

Leading Causes of Crashes

New York State, 2007
Incapacitating & Fatal Injuries
Crash Contributing Factors Driver's Age
16-17 yrs 25-49 yrs
Driver at Fault 71.7% 52.0%
Unsafe Speed 25.1% 13.9%
Driver Inexperience 16.8% 1.5%
Failure to Yield Right of Way 16.6% 8.3%
Driver Distraction* 13.1% 10.1%
Alcohol Involvement 3.1% 10.3%
*  Driver Distraction includes the contributing factors of Driver Inattention/Distraction,
Passenger Distraction, Cell Phone (hand held), Cell Phone (hands-free), Other Electronic
Device and Outside Car Distraction.
  • Teens are more likely to speed, drive distracted and allow shorter headways (the distance from the front of one vehicle to the back of the next) than older drivers.
  • Every day, eight people are killed or seriously injured in crashes involving speeding or distracted teen drivers.
  • When do most serious crashes occur?

    Almost 40% of fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur between 9 p.m.–Midnight and Noon–3 p.m.

Other Crash and Injury Risk Factors

  • Drowsy Driving

    Driving drowsy can be as dangerous as driving drunk. Every week, approximately three crashes occur involving fatigued teen drivers. More than 40% of all fall-asleep crashes were caused by drivers ages 25 years or younger.

  • Safety Belt Use

    Every month, approximately 12 unrestrained 14-17 year-olds are killed or seriously injured in police-reported motor vehicle crashes in New York State. Unrestrained back seat teen passengers, ages 14-17, are four times more likely to be killed or seriously injured when riding with teen drivers ages 16-17, as compared to riding with adult drivers ages 25-49.

Proven Strategy

Graduated Drivers Licensing Laws (GDL)

Hospitalizations of New York Teen Drivers*
Age Year
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
17 Year Olds 63.4 59.8 61.5 68.7 55.8 53.1 48.7 52.8 38.3
16 Year Olds 25.7 27.5 27.4 27 18.2 22.1 14 15.1 12
* Rate per 100,000 Residents
  • Research suggests that comprehensive GDL dramatically reduce the number of fatal and injury crashes by 38% and 40%, respectively, among 16 year-old drivers.
  • The yearly rate of hospitalizations for teen drivers ages 16-17 decreased nearly 50% between 2003, the year the NYS GDL was implemented, and 2008.
  • Night-time driving restrictions imposed under the NYS GDL reduced injury rates by 40% for 16 year-old drivers involved in crashes which occurred between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. For more information about the NYS GDL system, go to


Contact Information

Center for Environmental Health
Bureau of Occupational Health and Injury Prevention
Empire State Plaza-Corning Tower, Room 1325
Albany, New York 12237
(518) 402-7900
PHONE: (518) 473-1143
FAX: (518) 474-3067