Auto Insurance

1 in 8 Fatal Car Crashes in the Past Decade Involved the Youngest Drivers

41,187 drivers ages 15 to 20 were behind the wheel in these crashes from 2010 to 2019.
First responders at scene of car accident.
First responders at scene of car accident. Source: Getty Images

Young drivers were involved in 1 in every 8 fatal crashes over the past decade. ValuePenguin analyzed National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data from 2010 to 2019 — the most recently available data — and found that 13% of fatal crashes in this period involved drivers ages 15 to 20.

However, the data indicates that the yearly number of fatal crashes involving these youngest drivers has fallen since 2010. The number of deadly crashes involving drivers ages 15 to 20 dropped 14% in the past decade, from 4,440 in 2010 to 3,833 in 2019. And while young drivers were the operators in 13% of fatal crashes nationwide during this period, the annual share involving young drivers dropped from 15% in 2010 to 12% in 2019.

Depending on the state, young drivers may be involved in more crashes that result in death. In Kansas, Nebraska and Utah, 16% of the fatal crashes in this period involved a 15- to 20-year-old driver — the most of any state. At the same time, the number of deadly crashes involving young drivers from 2010 to 2019 fell by 3% in Nebraska, 9% in Utah and 27% in Kansas.

Key findings

The youngest drivers were involved in 13% of fatal accidents from 2010 to 2019, with the number of annual incidents falling by 14% during that time

There were 320,436 fatal crashes from 2010 to 2019 — 41,187 in which the driver was 15 to 20 years old. That means 13% of fatal crashes during this period involved a young driver.

While 13% of the fatal crashes from 2010 to 2019 involved young drivers, this figure changed depending on the year. At the start of the decade in 2010, 15% of the 30,296 fatal crashes involved a young driver. In 2019, though, the share of crashes where a young driver operated an affected car had fallen to 12% — and that's despite the number of fatal accidents rising to 33,244.

Fatal crashes
Percentage of all fatal crashes

Table shows number of fatal crashes where driver was between 15 and 20 years old.

During this period, there were 29,227 15- to 20-year-olds killed in fatal crashes. Sixty-two percent of these fatalities happened behind the wheel of the car, while 38% of those young people killed were passengers. In total, however, just 1 in 10 of the people killed in fatal car accidents — drivers or passengers — were young people ages 15 to 20.

In fact, 15- to 20-year-olds were among the groups least likely to be killed as the result of a fatal car crash, compared to the victims of all car crashes. Representing 19% of fatalities, 25- to 34-year-olds occupied the largest share of people killed during the 10 years. Those younger than 15 were the only group less likely to be killed in a fatal crash than those ages 15 to 20.

Fatal accidents involving young drivers were most common in Texas, but the number of cases dropped by 5% from 2010 to 2019

The greatest number of crashes involving young drivers from 2010 to 2019 took place in Texas. In the Lone Star State, there were 4,278 fatal accidents during this period. However, while this is the largest sum of any state, the yearly number of crashes with young drivers in Texas dropped by 5% over the decade.

In Maine, the annual number of fatal crashes involving young drivers dropped by the largest margin during these 10 years. The number of incidents fell by 54% in the state, eking out New Hampshire (53% decrease) and Rhode Island (50%) for the largest drop. Other New England states — Massachusetts (42%) and Vermont (33%) — had similar steep drop-offs in the annual number of fatal crashes involving young drivers, suggesting improving safety in the region.

On the other hand, the annual number of fatal crashes involving a young driver rose by 58% in Oregon from 2010 to 2019.

Oregon had the largest increase during this period. But while the number of crashes involving a young driver rose by 58% during the decade, there were just 421 through the entire 2010-to-2019 period — a little less than the number of crashes involving a young driver that Texas experienced in just one year. California — where there were 3,617 total crashes involving young drivers, the second-highest total after Texas — experienced an 8% increase during the decade.

Share of fatal crashes
Share of deaths
District of Columbia16N/A7%12%
Show All Rows

The change column shows the percentage change in the number of crashes with a young driver from 2010 to 2019. In the District of Columbia, the small numbers of crashes each year have made the percentage change disproportionately high, so it has been omitted.

In Nebraska, Utah and Kansas, 16% of all fatal crashes involved a young driver — the highest percentage by state. In the District of Columbia, young people were drivers in just 7% of fatal accidents during the decade — the lowest percentage of any place.

The average cost of car insurance for an 18-year-old driver increases by 300% or more in 12 states after a crash

Being involved in a car crash — though not necessarily a fatal one — and having to make an insurance claim results in much higher insurance costs after an accident. One crash can be costly for 18-year-old drivers, who often see higher initial rates due to their perceived inexperience and impulsiveness.

Across each state and D.C., rates increase by 253% on average for 18-year-old drivers after a single accident.

On average, car insurance premiums for 18-year-old drivers go from $2,467 to $8,709 after a crash. In some states, the cost can be even higher. ValuePenguin found 12 states where the average increase after an accident equals or exceeds 300%. First among these is Connecticut, where the average cost of coverage rises by 377% after an accident — from $2,753 to $13,120.

Average cost
After accident
3New Hampshire$2,016$9,436368%
4New Jersey$2,809$12,350340%
Show All Rows

There are just two places where the cost of insurance for young drivers doesn't rise by at least 100% after an accident: the District of Columbia and Hawaii. In Hawaii, the typical cost of auto insurance only increases by one-third after a crash — the lowest increase of any state.


ValuePenguin calculated the number of deaths and fatal crashes involving young people ages 15 to 20 as drivers and passengers. This analysis covers 2010 to 2019 — the most recently available data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Researchers compared the number of fatal crashes that involved these young drivers to the total number. Additionally, ValuePenguin found the share of all people in this age range killed in fatal traffic accidents, whether they were drivers or passengers.

This analysis used insurance rate data from Quadrant Information Services. Researchers pulled rates for 18-year-old drivers before and after an accident. These rates were publicly sourced from insurer filings and should be used for comparative purposes only, as your quotes may be different.