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Teen Driver Safety Frequently Asked Questions

Are young drivers over represented in the percentage of fatal crashes in the United States?
Yes. Drivers between 15 and 20 years old accounted for 6.9 percent of the U.S. population in 1998, but 14 percent of all drivers in fatal vehicle crashes. (NHTSA)
What is Virginia's policy on underage drinking and driving?
Virginia has a zero tolerance law for drinking and driving for persons under age 21. If you are convicted of driving after illegally consuming alcohol and were found to have a BAC of 0.02 and less than 0.08, the court penalty will include a suspension of your driving privilege for one year from the date of conviction, and a minimum mandatory fine of $500, or the requirement that you complete at least 50 hours of community service.
Have the percentages of teenage drivers fatally injured in vehicle crashes because of drinking changed over time?
During the 1980s, the percentages of fatally injured drivers with high BACs (0.10 percent or more) declined among drivers of all ages. Reductions were greatest among young drivers, in part, because of changes in age laws for purchasing alcohol. In 1980, fewer than half of the states had alcohol-purchasing requirements for 21 year-olds, although 49 percent of all fatally injured drivers younger than 21 had high BACs. This percentage declined dramatically as states adopted older ages for purchasing alcohol, and by 1998 it had declined to 22 percent, the biggest improvement for any age group. (IIHS)
How serious is the teenage motor vehicle crash problem?
In 1998, 5,606 teenagers died in the United States from injuries in motor vehicle crashes. The crash risk is particularly high during the first years in which teenagers are eligible for driver's licenses. Thirty-six percent of all deaths of 16 to 19 year-olds from all causes are related to motor vehicle crashes. (IIHS)
Do teenagers require more sleep than adults?
Yes, teenagers need more sleep than younger children and adults. Many teenagers need at least 9 hours of sleep each night, but most get less than 6.5 hours of sleep each night. (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
What is the most effective step to take when becoming sleepy when driving?
The most effective step when becoming sleepy while driving is to stop driving. If there is no other choice, consume the equivalent of two cups of coffee, take a nap, or call for a lift. (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
What factors contribute to motor vehicle crashes involving young drivers?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most crashes involving young drivers result from inexperience, risk-taking behavior, high-risk situations, alcohol use, illegal drug use, and not wearing a safety belt. (NHTSA)
Why is so much attention focused on young drivers?
A significant percentage of young drivers are involved in traffic crashes and are twice as likely as adult drivers to be in a fatal crash. Sixteen-year-old drivers have crash rates that are three times those of 17-year-olds, five times those of 18-year-olds, and twice those of 85-year-olds. (NHTSA)
What is a juvenile licensing ceremony?
In Virginia, all persons under age 18 receiving their first driver's license must participate in a juvenile licensing ceremony. In this ceremony, teenage drivers and their parents or legal guardians appear before a judge to receive a permanent driver's license. (Virginia Driver's Manual)