Young drivers (17-24 years old) are at how the higher risk of crashing than older drivers. Drivers aged 17-19 only structure 1.5% of UK license holders, but are involved in 9% of fatal and high crashes where they’re the driver. In 2018, 99 drivers aged 17-24 were killed and 1,170 were seriously injured in road crashes.

Worldwide, road crashes are the leading explanation for death among children aged 15-29. Young drivers are also over-represented in crash statistics compared with older drivers. as an example, young drivers aged under 25 structure around one-tenth of the population in OECD countries but represent quite 1 / 4 of drivers killed on the road.

The high level of risk associated with young drivers is because of a mix of youth and inexperience. Their inexperience means they have less ability to spot hazards, and their youth means they’re particularly likely to need risks like dangerous overtaking or speeding. This not only means crash risk reduces over time with experience, but also that people who start driving at a younger age are less likely to be involved during a collision.

Below are a variety of the precise characteristics of young drivers that put them at high risk of crashes.

Brain development

Although the human brain has mostly stopped growing by the highest of a person’s teenage years, it continues to travel through a period of in-depth remodeling. This strengthens connections between nerve cells and enables information to be processed more efficiently. this era is critical for the event of the prefrontal cortex (part of the frontal lobe), which plays an important role in regulating impulsive behavior, and thus the power to anticipate the results of behavior.

The prefrontal cortex doesn’t reach full maturity until people are a minimum of in their mid-20s.

Meanwhile, the limbic region, which is said to emotional responses, is overactive between the ages of 15 and 24. Increased limbic activity means children are more likely to be influenced by their peers and are more likely to enjoys thrill-seeking behavior.

This period of development means young drivers are often more likely to need risks and fewer able to regulate their impulses or understand the results of their decisions.

Young people also underestimate certain high-risk behaviors. as an example, research has shown that young drivers are less likely than older drivers to rate speeding as high-risk.


As drivers gain experience on the road, they subsided likely to crash and more likely to drive during a fashion that’s attentive, careful, responsible, and safe. However, many young drivers are still overconfident in their ability to drive safely.

Over-confidence can lead to dangerous driving behaviors including:

  • Overtaking
  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Harsh braking
  • Racing

Research has shown 98% of drivers aged 17-25 consider themselves safe, and 42% believe they’re very safe. Instead, many attribute young drivers’ collisions to the actions of a reckless few.

However, while the sensible skills of driving are often mastered quickly, some (less obvious) skills like hazard perception require more experience. this suggests young drivers might imagine they’re on top of things once they are literally driving unsafely, and become more likely to require risks as they believe their skills are improving. Young drivers who show overconfidence in self-assessment of their skills are more likely to crash in their first two years of driving than those that are insecure about their driving skills.

Poor assessment of hazards

Although some hazards on the road are easy to spot, there are some situations where hazards aren’t immediately obvious. It often takes experience to note these hidden hazards, so inexperienced young drivers might not notice them and react in time. Research has shown young drivers show poorer attention, visual awareness, hazard recognition, and avoidance, and are less ready to judge appropriate speed for circumstances.

Driving requires constantly balancing the eye needed for practical tasks like steering and changing gears and more cognitively demanding tasks like hazard identification. due to their inexperience young drivers got to concentrate more on practical tasks, so are slower to modify between tasks and slower to react to hazards.

Common risky behaviors


Young people often drive too fast because they underestimate the risks associated with speeding, and crashes occur because they’re doing not got to react to a dangerous situation and control their vehicle to avoid a collision. Excessive or inappropriate speed could also be a key contributor towards crashes involving young drivers within the united kingdom et al. Across Europe, speed contributes to 30% of all crashes involving young male drivers and 21% of crashes involving young female drivers. This compares to only 15% of older drivers’ crashes.

The younger the driver, the more likely they’re to be involved during a crash caused by speed. this is often particularly the case for young men, who are much more likely to be involved during a fatal crash caused by speeding than young female drivers.

Drink and drug driving

Drivers in their 20s have the absolute best rate of drink-driving crashes and thus the second-highest rate of drug driving crashes after 16-19-year-olds. In 2017, 160 people were killed or seriously injured in crashes involving a young driver who was over the drink-drive limit.

The prevalence of drug driving is harder to measure because of inconsistent reporting, but one study found that almost one in 10 (9%) of 17-24-year-olds within the united kingdom admit having driven on drugs.

Even low levels of alcohol within the blood can make a young driver significantly more likely to be involved during a road crash. With a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.02-0.05% (equivalent to 2 drinks), a young driver aged 16-19 is seven times more likely to be killed during a crash than a sober driver of any age.

Not wearing seat belts

Young drivers and passengers are less likely to always wear seat belts, and will not pack up when during a car with friends because of peer pressure. American research has found that life belt use by young drivers decreases because the number of young passengers they carry increases.

Mobile phones

Any out in the wheel can cause a distraction, including hands-free conversations. Drivers speaking on a phone experience ‘visual tunneling’ that limits their field of vision, putting them and other road users in peril.

Young drivers need to concentrate more on driving than experienced drivers, which makes them more susceptible to distraction, as an example from mobile phones. Despite this, evidence suggests young drivers are more likely than older drivers to use their mobile phones at the wheel: a Brake survey found that 19% of young drivers admitted texting at the wheel a minimum of once a month, compared with 11% of older drivers taking this risk. American research has found that 60% of young drivers admit writing texts or emails while driving, and 77% admit speaking on a phone.

Other risk factors

Carrying passengers

Research shows that peer pressure can encourage bad driving and end in drivers ‘showing off’ to their passengers and taking more risks. 16-17-year-old drivers are up to fourfold more likely to die during a crash when carrying young passengers than when driving alone, but 62% less likely when carrying older adult passengers, indicating it’s peer pressure rather than simply the presence of passengers that raises the danger [33]. Young passengers can also cause distraction: teenage drivers are sixfold more likely to possess a big incident when there is a loud conversation within the vehicle.

Driving within the dark

Young drivers have a far better proportion of crashes within the evenings and early mornings. Young drivers’ high risk within the dark is assumed to be because they’re presumed to be driving for recreational purposes, and more likely to be drunk or drugged, or taking risks like speeding because of peer pressure. it’s getting to even be because drivers within the dark are more likely to be driving tired.

Driving within the dark also requires extreme care. Young drivers could even be under the impression that because roads are quieter within the dark it’s safer for them to hurry or pay less attention. In fact, driving within the dark takes more care because of poorer visibility and a greater likelihood of drink drivers or drunk pedestrians on the roads.