The Deadliest States for Teen Drivers

The Deadliest States for Teen Drivers

America's roads are a dangerous place for teen drivers, with 6,376 motorists aged 16 to 19 dying as a result of traffic crashes from 2013 to 2017. Some areas of the country were worse than others, with the five deadliest states accounting for a disproportionate number of deaths relative to their populations. These states — Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Montana and West Virginia — had 10% of teen driver deaths, though they had only 6% of the nation’s licensed teen drivers.

Our study found that teenage male drivers were more than 2.5 times as likely to die in a car crash than their female counterparts. Additionally, we determined that summer is the most deadly time of year for this demographic — with nearly 30% of fatalities occurring from June to August.

Heat map of the most dangerous states for teen drivers.

1. Kentucky

3.47 annual teen driver deaths per 10,000 licensed teen drivers

Kentucky is the deadliest state for teen drivers, with 128 fatalities from 2013 to 2017. Teen motorists in this state are 16% more likely to die in a car crash than those in Mississippi — the second most deadly state — and 140% more so than the average U.S. teen.

This high rate of serious car accidents for this demographic could be a contributing factor to the high insurance costs for young drivers in this state, as Kentucky rates are the fourth most expensive in the country for student auto insurance.


2. Mississippi

3.00 annual teen driver deaths per 10,000 licensed teen drivers

With an average of 3.00 deaths per 10,000 licensed teenage drivers each year, Mississippi is twice as deadly on a per capita basis than the national average. There were only six fewer teen driver deaths in Mississippi than in Tennessee — 167 compared to 173 — though Tennessee has more than twice as many licensed drivers 19 years old or younger.


3. North Carolina

2.36 annual teen driver deaths per 10,000 licensed teen drivers

In 2017, there were 42 teen driver deaths in North Carolina. That's 23 more than in New York, a state with 42% more licensed teenagers. Our study revealed that North Carolina teen drivers are 59% more likely to be killed in a car accident than those in South Carolina.


4. Montana

2.30 annual teen driver deaths per 10,000 licensed teen drivers

The Treasure State is one of the most deadly in the nation for teen drivers. Montana motorists in this age range were 60% more likely to die in a car crash than the national average. This is more bad news for this state's drivers, as we previously found this state to be the deadliest for drunk driving accidents.


5. West Virginia

2.20 annual teen driver deaths per 10,000 licensed teen drivers

Our survey found that West Virginia teen drivers are more than 50% more likely to die in a fatal car crash than those in Virginia. Teenage boys in the Mountain State are particularly at risk, as young male drivers were involved in crashes at more than two times the rate of young women in the state — 42 deaths compared to 18.

States With the Greatest Change

In the U.S., teen driver fatalities increased to 1,310 in 2017 from 1,127 fatalities in 2013 — a difference of 16%. Additionally, 30 states saw more teen driver deaths over this span, with Delaware, New Mexico and Rhode Island having the largest percentage increase. But 17 states actually saw a decrease in the number of teen fatalities, with Wyoming, Connecticut and Hawaii leading this group with a combined 77% decline.

A graph of the states with the greatest increase and decrease in teen driver fatality rate from 2013 to 2017.

Male Teens Are More At Risk Than Female Teens

Our study found, overwhelmingly, that young men drivers died in traffic crashes more than their female counterparts — with males accounting for 72% of the fatalities we surveyed. In fact, in Vermont all nine teen driver fatalities from 2013 to 2017 were male. Over the period surveyed, only Alaska saw more female than male teen driving deaths, with seven female and five male fatalities.

Graph of the two states with the highest and the two states with the lowest ratio of male teen driver deaths to female teen driver deaths and the national average.

What Time of Year Is the Worst for Teen Traffic Deaths?

Our study revealed that the summer months accounted for the most teen driver fatalities. We found August to be the month with the highest number of teen driver fatalities, with 630 deaths. This is 70% greater than the 371 teen motorist fatalities that occurred in February.

Graph comparing the number of average teen driver deaths per day for each month.

Full List of States

Rank
State
Teen driver deaths from 2013-2017
Licensed drivers age 19 or younger
Average annual fatalities per 10,000 licensed drivers age 19 or younger
1Kentucky12873,8673.47
2Mississippi167111,3273.00
3North Carolina267226,6472.36
4Montana4438,2622.30
5West Virginia6054,4422.20
6Wyoming2422,0032.18
7North Dakota3128,6252.17
8New Mexico5454,7071.97
9Missouri198202,1991.96
10Texas651669,6981.94
11Maine3435,3561.92
12Alabama207220,2681.88
Show All Rows


Methodology

We collected data on the number of drivers of the age 16 to 19 that were fatality injured in a car accident as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Our figures did not include vehicle occupant, pedestrian or cyclist fatalities. Fatal accidents that occurred in the District of Columbia during this time period (there were three) counted toward the Nationwide figures. Licensing figures were from 2017, the most recent available, and were sourced from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.