Teen Driver Safety Week Fact Sheet

  • Every year more than 100 young people die on Washington’s roads. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for young people age 16 to 25.

  • Young drivers age 16-25 represent only 13% of licensed drivers, but about 30% of all drivers in fatal crashes in Washington.

  • National Teen Driver Safety Week is October 21-27, 2018.

  • It’s a great time for parents and family members to focus on helping their teens learn how to be safe drivers. All of us have a role in starting teens on a lifetime of safe driving habits.

  • Take part. If you have a teen driver, know your role, the rules and the risks.

Teen Driving Risk Factors

  • Drugs and alcohol: 57% of fatal crashes in Washington with a young driver included impairment as a factor.

  • Passengers: Nearly half of fatal crashes in Washington involving teen drivers included one or more teen passengers in the same vehicle.

  • Seat belts: More than 55% of teens killed in crashes were not wearing a seat belt. Young male drivers are more likely to not wear a seat belt than young female drivers.

  • Fatigue: Teen drivers who sleep less than 8 hours per night are 33% more likely to crash than teens who get 8 hours.

  • Distracted Driving: 60% of Washington high school seniors reported riding in the car with a driver who was texting. In Washington, 30% of crash fatalities are due to distracted drivers. Young female drivers are more likely to be distracted than young male drivers.

  • Wet roads: 83% of fatal crashes involving young drivers between 2014-2016 occurred on wet road surfaces.

  • Driving at night: Between 2014 and 2016, more fatal crashes involving young drivers occurred during evening and night hours than daytime. Inexperience, combined with a a greater likelhoood of having teen passengers and driving unsupervised by an adult are all factors.

When Teens are Behind the Wheel, Parents Should Stay in the Driver’s Seat

  • Your teen may be behind the wheel, but as a parent you are in the driver’s seat when it comes to nurturing adolescents into becoming safe, responsible drivers.

  • According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, self-reported surveys show that teens with parents who set and enforce firm rules for driving typically engage in less risky driving behaviors and are involved in fewer crashes.

  • As a parent you can:

Set the rules of the road: Your teen’s intermediate license places legal restrictions on teen driving (see below), but parents and guardians should establish rules appropriate to each individual teen. Driving is a privilege, not a right. Make it clear that violating the rules will have repercussions.

Be a Road Model: Drive like someone is watching you, because they are. Drive sober, buckle-up, hands on the wheel and off the phone and obey speed limits. If you make exceptions, your teen will too.

Coach: Your teen is required to get 50 supervised hours of practice to get their license. You can do more than just ride along. Coach good driving skills and good behavior – enforcing the law and your own rules. Log your teen’s progress either in a hard-copy log available from the Department of Licensing, or use the free Road Ready app.

Attend: Washington’s driver training schools offer a parent’s night. Go and find out how you can be more involved in your teen’s driver education.

Know and enforce intermediate license restrictions: 16-year-old Washington residents who complete a driver training course and meet additional requirements will be issued an intermediate driver’s license, which carries specific restrictions until the driver is 18. The restrictions are focused on reducing common safety risks for teen crashes relating to passengers, nighttime driving and distraction. Specifically:


No passenger under 20 years old except for immediate family members (spouse, child, stepchild, or siblings, either by birth or marriage), for the first six months.

Next six months to age 18: no more than 3 passengers under 20 years old who aren’t members of your immediate family

Nighttime driving:

No driving between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by a parent, guardian or licensed driver at least age 25.

Cell Phone Use

No use of a wireless device, including hands-free devices, unless reporting an emergency.

  • “Can I borrow the car keys?” doesn’t need to be one of the scariest questions a teen will ask a parent or guardian. Parents who have a role retain control. For more ideas and resources visit WADrivetoZero.com.