Teenage drivers, especially males, pay more for car insurance than any other age group. Insurance companies cite statistics to determine the amount of risk to all drivers, and these numbers don’t favor the youngest drivers. Teenage boys pay larger premiums than teenage girls because they’re statistically more likely to kill or hurt someone from behind the wheel.
A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showed that 9.2 teenage male drivers die in traffic accidents for every 100 million vehicle miles. This was nearly double the death rate of 5.3 for teenage female drivers. The same study showed a 2.5 death rate for all male drivers covering 100 million vehicle miles and 1.7 for all females.
In 2010, male drivers from age 15 through 24 were at the wheel for 30 percent of all injury accidents, compared to 28 percent for females. The costs showed a greater discrepancy, with young male drivers accounting for $19 billion in costs to $7 billion for females. For perspective, people aged 15 through 24 make up 14 percent of the United States population.
Driving While Intoxicated
According to the National Highway Transport Safety Administration, 21 percent of teens in a fatal accident were drinking at the time. By gender, alcohol contributed to 24 percent of teenage male drivers in a fatal crash and 11 percent of teenage girls. The percentage of drinkers isn’t as high with minor accidents. Across both sexes, 3 percent of property-damage accidents came at the hands of a teenager who was drinking, and 4 percent of injury accidents.
Seat Belt Use
Teen Drivers Source reports that 11.5 percent of teen drivers say they seldom -- or never -- use their seat belts. This compares with the 7.7 percent of teenage female drivers who seldom belt themselves in. More than half of teens killed in car crashes were not using their seat belts.
Teenage boys are slightly more likely to text while driving, according to a study cited by Newsday. Among teenage boys, 49 percent say they send and receive text messages at the wheel while 45 percent of female teens do. Older teens are more likely to send text messages, with 58 percent of 18-year-olds and 24 percent of 15-year-old drivers.
Behind the Numbers
While driver statistics raise questions about the differences in young male and young female drivers, insurance companies suggest it’s just the makeup of teenage boys. Natural competitiveness fueled by testosterone means teenage males are more likely to to take chances behind the wheel and will drink more. Boys are also more likely to take more chances, log more miles, and collect more speeding tickets. But some factors remain common to both genders. Major contributors to accidents include poor speed judgment, tailgating, distraction, and failure to see and read road hazards as they come up.
- Teen Driver Source: Stats and Facts
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Young Drivers
- Center for Disease Control: Teen Drivers Fact Sheet
- Newsday: Study - Texting while driving now leading cause of death for teen drivers
- Car Insurance Comparison: Cost of Car Insurance For Boys Higher Than Girls
Al Bondigas is an award-winning newspaperman who started writing professionally in 1985. His print credits include the "Mohave Valley Daily News" and "The Mohave County Standard." Bondigas studied journalism at San Bernardino Valley College in California.