Speeding a Trending Risk to Teens

This article originated in the January/February 2021 issue of Safe Ride News.

GHSA Report: Speeding a Trending Risk to Teens

An analysis of recent crash data by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has found that speeding is a factor in an outsized proportion of teen crash fatalities. In fact, from 2015 to 2019, speed was a factor in the deaths of more drivers and passengers ages 16 to 19 years of age (43%) than for all other age groups (average 30%).

GHSA Infographic
Infographics about teens and speeding, including this one highlighting the problem of unbuckled teens, are available from GHSA. Download the jpeg files at

During the five-year period, 4,930 teen drivers and passengers died in speeding-related crashes. The study found the teens were more likely to be unbuckled, a problem that was worse among older teen drivers; as shown in the infographic, the number of unrestrained drivers who died in speeding-related crashes doubled between ages 16 and 17 and tripled by age 19.  Teen crash victims were also more likely to be male and to experience run-off-the-road and/or rollover-type crashes.

This troubling trend may be worsening as life with COVID-19 enters its second year.  Although pandemic-related restrictions have led to fewer vehicle miles traveled in the past year, a corresponding decrease in crashes (historically seen during times of economic downturn) has not transpired.  Rather, there has been a spike in crashes.   According to GHSA, states have cited speeding on roadways that are less crowded than normal as a major factor in the surge in motor vehicle deaths (all ages). GHSA also theorized that parents may be spending less time training their teen drivers due to other demands brought on by the pandemic.

As teens return to school, enjoy more freedom, and head into summer, it is important to promote teen-driver safety messages, including reminders of the dangers of speeding.  In addition, if your state has a Graduated Licensing Law on the books, this is a key time to remind teens and caregivers that these rules exist to prevent unthinkable tragedies; their existence is based on proof of efficacy.  By following these laws, families not only keep their teens safer, but they also teach them that laws must be abided.  Families who are lax about following these laws do the opposite!

Click to download Teens and Speeding: Breaking the Deadly Cycle.