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Youth drivers and passengers

For most teenagers, getting a driver’s licence is an exciting milestone that represents freedom and independence.

But getting behind the wheel can also be risky. Although youth injuries and deaths from vehicle crashes are declining, they’re still unacceptably high. Unsafe choices associated with driving and being a passenger in a vehicle remain the top risks to the lives and health of youth.

On average, 28 youths, ages 16 to 21, are killed in crashes every year in B.C.*

What’s causing the crashes?

Factors such as driver inexperience, driving without due care, overestimation of ability, thrill-seeking and risk-taking play a role in the high rate of youth crashes. Young drivers also tend to be more easily distracted, especially with passengers and electronic gadgets in the car. They also often drive at night, when the risk of crashing is greater.

When it comes to contributing factors in crashes resulting in injuries or fatalities, the data shows that 22 per cent of speeding drivers, 13 per cent of impaired drivers and 14 per cent of distracted drivers were between the ages of 16 and 21.*

Young male drivers aged 16 to 21 are involved in crashes three times more often than young female drivers, particularly when speed or impairment was involved.*

Changing behaviour

The following educational resources can help raise awareness with youth, parents, educators and community groups to reduce crashes and make roads safer.

Educational resources and driver licensing

  • Road safety speakers program — Students can listen to dynamic speakers who use personal stories to teach the risks and rewards of cars and driving.

  • Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) — This program helps new drivers gain the driving experience they need in a controlled, low-risk environment. New drivers gain privileges as they become safer on the roads. In its first three years, GLP reduced the new driver crash rate in B.C. by 16 per cent.

  • Road safety learning resources — These free resources meet prescribed learning outcomes and provide teachers with the resources they need to present road safety information to students from preschool to grade 10.

Young drivers can also study for their “L” or Learner’s licence with our Learn to Drive Smart guides.

Regional statistics:*

  • On average, ten youths are killed in crashes every year in the Lower Mainland.

  • On average, three youths are killed in crashes every year on Vancouver Island.

  • On average, eight youths are killed in crashes every year in the Southern Interior.

  • On average, seven youths are killed in crashes every year in North Central region.

* Police-reported data based on the five-year average from 2015 to 2019. Youth are defined as age 16 to 21. Data as of April 30, 2020; previous counts continued to settle over time.