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Teen Driving Accident Statistics in California

Driving in California usually means paying attention to a thousand things at once. People with experience on the freeway or on local boulevards get used to the demands of driving in such busy conditions. But those with fewer driving miles under their belt, like teenagers, can struggle to drive safely and to avoid the mistakes of others.

Maison Law examined national statistics on teen driving safety and California figures for this study. It’s hoped that visual reminders of the heartbreaking numbers of serious accidents and fatalities involving teens can encourage young drivers to take better care once they get their licenses.

Teen Driving Tragedies on U.S. Roads

The CDC reports that U.S. teens behind the wheel ages 16-19 have a fatal crash rate that’s three times greater than for drivers 20 and older. Brand new drivers, usually around 16 years old, also put themselves and others at more risk than even slightly older drivers. 16-year-old drivers have an accident rate that’s about 1.5 times higher than drivers who are 17 to 19 years old.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported that the number of teenage victims lost in U.S. traffic accidents has been on the rise over the past few years. Over 3,000 young victims from the age of 13 to 19 lost their lives in 2021.

3,558 teens killed in U.S. Accidents in 2021.


Teen Drivers In California Fatal Accidents

Getting a driver’s license is a big moment in any young person’s life. Sadly, that joyous period of initial freedom can also come with life-threatening risks. Teens may act more recklessly when they are driving without parents. They may choose to consume alcohol before getting behind the wheel. Even teens doing their best to keep everyone safe can make mistakes due to their lack of experience with California traffic.

Sadly, recent accident statistics show that the fatal risks that teen drivers bring to the road are only growing. The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) reports that fatal crashes involving teen drivers in our state (ages 15 to 20) jumped by almost 15% from 2020 to 2021.


474 Teen Drivers involved in California fatal accidents in 2021


Figures from the California DOT showed that those increased accident rates often involved the teen drivers themselves being placed at deadly risk. From 2019 to 2020, the number of teen drivers (ages 16 to 19) killed in California collisions increased by just over 23%. 106 teen drivers lost their lives in California crashes in 2020.


106 Teen Drivers killed in California accidents in 2020.

California Teen Driving Dangers Across a Decade

The California DOT also put out a report that included teen driver accident statistics over a ten-year span. They examined accidents involving drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 years old within that time frame.

They discovered that accidents caused by teen motorists remained high, but steady over the decade that they observed. Teen driver fatalities made up about 13% of the total fatalities on California roads for the decade in question.

Some cities contributed more than others to the frightening teen accident cases. Los Angeles was the scene for about 50% of the fatal accidents that claimed the lives of teen drivers.

The DOT broke out the number of fatal accidents in certain California cities and the percentage of those accidents that claimed a teen driver’s life.

14% of the fatal accidents in Los Angeles over a decade involved teen drivers.


A few other startling facts that emerged from California’s data on teen driving accidents:

  • DOT researchers found that over the decade, serious accidents involving teens were most often caused by three factors. Speeding, improper turning, and drug or alcohol abuse.
  • DOT researchers discovered that 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. was the deadliest time for teen driving accidents. Around 50% of all teen serious teen driving accidents occurred during this time period.
  • In 2022, Los Angeles recorded 847 serious accidents involving teenage victims (15 to 19) with a tragic 25 young victims losing their lives.

Safe Driving for Teens in 2023 and Beyond

Maison Law of California hopes that 2023 accident statistics will show an improvement in these tragic figures. It’s an achievable goal for teens to make better decisions at the wheel and for older drivers to show more caution around young drivers and, in fact, all California motorists.

For more information on how teens and parents can protect themselves during those first driving years, check out our Ultimate Guide to Safe Teen Driving in California.


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