Teen Driving: A state-by-state look at death rates of teen passengers and drivers

Teen driving facts are startling. From 2007 and 2011 nearly 16,000 16- to 19-year-olds died in car crashes when they or another teen was driving. The per capita fatal crash rate for this age group is 35 percent higher than for drivers ages 20 and older.

These are just some of the findings from Erie Insurance’s second annual exclusive analysis of teen driving death rates. Erie Insurance worked with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to examine crash data from the U.S. Department of Transportation to show state-by-state comparisons of teen crash death rates when teens are behind the wheel.

What else did we find? Wyoming, Montana, Mississippi, Alabama and West Virginia had the highest rates of deaths with teens behind the wheel. The District of Columbia, New York, New Jersey, California and Massachusetts had the lowest rates.

Tennessee moved into the top 10 states with the highest death rates from last year’s analysis; South Dakota moved off. The tables below show how the 10 states compare year-to-year. The interactive infographic shows each state’s ranking.

The new analysis coincides with the launch of the 2013 Erie Insurance Shift program, a driver safety contest designed for teens to share good driving tips and experiences and discourage their peers from engaging in dangerous driving behaviors. The contest awards $20,000 in cash and gift cards to teens and their schools for sharing the safe driving message.

“While our numbers show the average teen driving death rate from 2006-2011 trending down, we’ve also seen preliminary data from the Governors Highway Safety Association showing the 2012 rate creeping up,” said Karen Kraus Phillips, vice president at Erie Insurance. “The bottom line is that one death is too many. Tens of thousands of teen injuries and deaths happen on the road every year and car crashes remain the leading cause of death for this age group. Our goal is to raise awareness of dangerous driving behaviors so teens adopt safer driving habits.”

For complete contest rules including how points are awarded, visit www.jointheshift.org. The contest ends Nov. 18, 2013.

IIHS notes that state graduated driver licensing laws have helped reduce teen crash rates significantly in recent years, but these laws vary in strength. Research shows that every state could reduce its teen crash rate by adopting stronger GDL laws.

Top 10 States with the Highest Teen Death Rates with Teen Drivers

2007-11 Top Ten
Highest Death Rates
2006-10 Top Ten
Highest Death Rates
1. Wyoming 1. Wyoming
2. Montana 2. Montana
3. Mississippi 3. Mississippi
4. Alabama 4. West Virginia
5. West Virginia 5. Arkansas
6. Oklahoma 6. Alabama
7. Arkansas 7. Oklahoma
8. North Dakota 8. South Dakota†
9. Kentucky 9. Kentucky
10. Tennessee* 10. North Dakota

*Added to top 10 in 2007-11
†Removed from top 10 in 2007-11

Top 10 States with the Lowest Teen Death Rates with Teen Drivers

2007-11 Top Ten
Lowest Death Rates
2006-10 Top Ten
Lowest Death Rates
1. Washington, DC 1. Washington, DC
2. New York 2. New York
3. New Jersey 3. Rhode Island
4. California 4. Massachusetts
5. Massachusetts 5. New Jersey
6. Rhode Island 6. California
7. Hawaii 7. Hawaii
8. Delaware 8. Minnesota
9. Minnesota 9. Connecticut
10. Connecticut 10. Delaware

Overall

State 2007-11
Death Rate
2006-10
Death Rate
2007-11
Rank
2006-10
Rank
Alabama 27.9 31.2 4 6
Alaska 13.2 13.0 32 34
Arizona 13.0 16.5 33 28
Arkansas 26.9 31.2 7 5
California 7.9 9.8 48 46
Colorado 11.9 13.0 35 35
Connecticut 10.3 12.2 42 43
Delaware 9.9 12.4 44 42
Dist of Columbia 3.5 1.7 51 51
Florida 16.1 18.6 24 22
Georgia 15.3 17.9 27 23
Hawaii 9.7 11.6 45 45
Idaho 22.9 23.4 13 17
Illinois 10.8 12.7 38 39
Indiana 18.4 20.6 21 20
Iowa 16.5 17.2 23 26
Kansas 21.5 23.4 16 18
Kentucky 24.2 27.7 9 9
Louisiana 23.3 25.3 12 14
Maine 19.1 20.5 20 21
Maryland 10.9 12.5 37 41
Massachusetts 8.0 8.8 47 48
Michigan 12.5 12.7 34 38
Minnesota 9.9 11.7 43 44
Mississippi 30.1 32.3 3 3
Missouri 23.3 26.6 11 12
Montana 31.4 34.1 2 2
Nebraska 21.0 24.7 17 15
Nevada 10.7 14.4 39 33
New Hampshire 13.5 15.0 30 31
New Jersey 7.3 8.9 49 47
New Mexico 20.7 24.0 18 16
New York 6.5 7.6 50 50
North Carolina 20.3 21.4 19 19
North Dakota 24.6 27.2 8 10
Ohio 13.5 14.6 29 32
Oklahoma 27.1 28.9 6 7
Oregon 11.6 12.6 36 40
Pennsylvania 15.4 16.1 26 29
Rhode Island 8.2 8.5 46 49
South Carolina 22.9 25.3 14 13
South Dakota 22.7 28.0 15 8
Tennessee 23.7 26.7 10 11
Texas 15.9 17.5 25 25
Utah 10.7 12.8 40 37
Vermont 16.6 16.5 22 27
Virginia 13.2 15.7 31 30
Washington 10.3 12.8 41 36
West Virginia 27.9 31.2 5 4
Wisconsin 15.2 17.8 28 24
Wyoming 36.4 35.6 1 1

*A report from the Governors Highway Safety Association shows the number of 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths in passenger vehicles increased for the first six months of 2012, based on preliminary data supplied by all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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