What We Know About Teen Drivers in North Carolina

Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death among North Carolina teens, according to the state’s 2018 Highway Safety Plan.

Below, the car accident attorneys at The Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo summarize important information from the most recent safety plan and discuss how parents and guardians can reduce accident risks among teens and young drivers.

Teen Drivers in North Carolina

In 2015, 165 drivers less than 20 years old were involved in a fatal car crash.

The same year, drivers 16 to 20 years old made up seven percent of the population in North Carolina, but they accounted for 14 percent of all crashes and nine percent of fatal crashes.

The plan also highlights some interesting characteristics about crash victims. For example, 16-year-old drivers are less likely to crash than their older counterparts.

In fact, as teen drivers get older, the risk for incident also increases. This is likely because younger drivers drive less and older drivers drive more.

Young drivers between the age of 20 and 29 have the highest crash counts compared to any other age group.

This is significant for parents: once a teen turns 18, they’re not leaving the dangers of teen driving and driving safety. In 2016, young drivers in their twenties crashed twice as much as drivers aged 15 to 19.

Here are a few other important takeaways from the 2018 Highway Safety Plan:

  • Male drivers are only slightly more likely to be involved in a crash (53 percent versus 47 percent)
  • There are clear peaks near the beginning and end of the school day (7:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.)
  • Young driver crashes are more likely to occur on urban roads than rural (59 percent versus 41 percent)
  • Sixty-seven percent of crash-involved young drivers were driving passenger cars
  • Counties with the highest numbers of young drivers involved in fatal crashes include Wake, Mecklenburg, Guilford, Cumberland, and Robeson

Teen and young drivers are overrepresented in crash statistics. Inexperience is a factor but there are ways parents and guardians can help.

Understand Licensing & State Laws

North Carolina has a graduated licensing program that exposes teens to complex driving situations over an extended period and includes certain restrictions.

A limited learners permit is available at age 15 with a driving eligibility certificate and following the completion of an approved driving course.

Parents and guardians should be aware of the following restrictions to a limited learners permit:

  • A supervising licensed driver must be present in the front seat at all times
  • The supervising licensed driver must be a parent, grandparent, or an adult approved by a parent or legal guardian
  • The supervising licensed driver must be licensed for at least five years
  • For the first six months, driving is only permitted between 5:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.
  • Use of mobile device is prohibited

A limited provisional license is available at age 16 and after 12 months with a limited learner permit.

The following restrictions apply to a limited provisional license:

  • When driving unsupervised, no more than one passenger under 21 years old may be in the vehicle, unless the passenger is an immediate family member or a member of the same household
  • Use of mobile device is prohibited

A full provisional license is available to teen drivers after completing both phases of the program.

Other Ways to Curb Bad Driving Behavior

One of the best ways parents and guardians can ensure good driving behavior from teens is to model good driving behavior. This means following all traffic laws and being courteous to others who share the road.

However, some parents find a formal agreement or contract stresses the importance of safety.

There are several templates available online including the Parent-Teen Driving Contract from The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or this Start Smart contract from AAA.

Another way to curb bad driving behaviors like distracted driving is to install apps that block, limit, and track cell phone use while the driver is underway.

The LifeSaver app blocks phone use while driving and lets parents know when teens arrive at their destination—it’s also free!

For a monthly fee, apps like Bouncie let you manage multiple family vehicles from a  single app, allowing parents to track location and cell use along with important driving data like speed, sudden braking, and other dangerous maneuvers. 

For more useful safety information, follow the DeMayo Law Offices on Twitter, or ‘like’ us on Facebook.  Also, be sure to check us out on YouTube and LinkedIn for updates and more!

Office Locations

With North Carolina office locations in Charlotte, Hickory, Monroe and in Columbia, South Carolina, DeMayo Law Offices have been serving the state since 1992. You can contact us 24/7 and if you are unable to come to us - we will come to you.


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