North Carolina Has the 2nd Most Teenage Driving Fatalities in the U.S.

Far too many teenage drivers lose their lives in preventable car accidents.

The number of teen drivers and passengers killed in traffic accidents is increasing every year. It's a persistent problem that's affected the lives of families across the country and even more so in states like North Carolina. Following Kentucky, North Carolina has the most teenagers killed in car accidents. Although inexperience may have something to do with it, the three main reasons for teenage driving deaths are driving under the influence of alcohol, speeding, and distracted driving.

New teen driver behind the wheel.

Top 3 causes of teenage car accidents

The most recent data on Zutobi shows that North Carolina has a total of 45.34 teen driver fatalities per 100,000 licensed teenagers, the 2nd highest out of every state in the nation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says teenagers 16 to 19 years old are at a higher risk of car accidents than any other age group. In addition, newly licensed teens, teen males, and teen drivers with other young adult passengers are also at higher risk of causing crashes.

What's driving this trend? Here are the three main reasons.

Alcohol consumption

Even though the legal drinking age is 21, that doesn't stop some teens from drinking and driving. In 2020, 523 teen drivers were killed in crashes involving alcohol. According to the CDC, 24 percent of drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 were killed in drunk driving crashes.


From 2015 to 2019, almost 5,000 teen drivers and passengers died in speed-related accidents. Teen drivers are more likely to speed and take risks than older adult drivers. Teen drivers are also prone to tailgating, which can cause serious rear-end accidents. Speeding is reckless driving behavior that is a problem for motorists of all ages, but teens are the drivers most likely to drive at reckless speeds.

Distracted driving

Distracted driving is extremely dangerous because it shifts a driver's attention from the road. Distracted driving doesn't have an age limit, but the risks are higher for inexperienced teen drivers. Results from a 2019 survey show that 39 percent of high school student drivers texted or sent an email at least once while driving. Texting while driving increases the risk of an accident by six times and is statistically more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol.

How to prevent teen driver accidents

The CDC offers 4 tips for teen drivers to stay safe on the road:

  1. Always wear your seatbelt. Buckling your seatbelt can be the difference between life and death. Seatbelts save lives.
  2. No drugs or alcohol before driving. Driving under the influence is dangerous, especially for inexperienced teen drivers. Choosing to drink and drive is a choice to put your life and the lives of others at risk.
  3. Ignore all distractions. Don't give in to the temptation to reach for your cell phone when driving. It is never worth the risk. Instead, if needed, drive to a safe location, park, turn off your vehicle, then use your phone.
  4. Become a driving expert. Take driver education seriously. Learn the rules of the road until you know them like the back of your hand, and make sure to be familiar with the vehicle you drive. Not all cars have the same features.

Get help from an experienced North Carolina car accident attorney.

If you were hurt in an accident caused by a teen driver in North Carolina, or if you are the parent of a teen driver who was injured in an accident that wasn't their fault, it's important you learn your potential legal options. You may be entitled to compensation for your losses, but without the help of a car accident lawyer, you could settle for less than you deserve—or get nothing at all.

That's why it's important to seek experienced legal advice. At Brent Adams & Associates, we have decades of experience building strong cases and advocating for the best interests of our clients. Learn more about how we can help you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We're located in Raleigh, Fayetteville, Dunn, and Southern Pines, North Carolina.

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