Young Drivers

Chair: Andrew Murie,
Contact the Young Drivers Working Group


Goal: To examine evidence and interventions that can help reduce teen and other young driver involvement in traffic crashes.


This Working Group is newly formed, and as such, information below relates to the development and scope of the Group.


The Nature of the Problem:


Although the following information is drawn from Canada, the problem of impairment-related youth crash deaths appears to be similar in the United States, Australia, Western Europe, the United Kingdom, and other developed countries.  


Despite the progress made between 1980 and the late 1990s, traffic crashes remain the largest cause of death among young Canadians, accounting for 37% of 15-19 year old deaths and 29% of 20-24 year old deaths in 2005. Young people have the highest rates of traffic death and injury per capita among all age groups, and the highest death rate per kilometer driven among all drivers under 75 years of age. In 2007, traffic crashes killed 746 young people and injured another 48,776. Even conservatively estimated, 48% of these deaths were alcohol related. Although more research is required, it is clear that a significant number of additional youth crash deaths were drug related.


Young people have, by far, the highest rates of weekly, monthly and total binge drinking, defined as consuming 5 or more standard drinks on a single occasion. (In Canada, a standard drink contains 13.46 grams of alcohol). Among current young drinkers, over two-thirds acknowledged binge drinking at least once in the past year and, of these, over half reported doing so at least 12 times. Young people also have the highest rates of drug use and driving after drug use. Furthermore, young drivers tend to be risk takers when compared to older drivers, and have the highest rates of speeding and the lowest rates of seatbelt use.  Finally, young people have the highest rates of impaired driving charges in Canada.




The scope of the potential projects should be broadly defined. The project should include both beginning drivers (14 – 19 year olds) and young adult drivers (20 – 25 year olds). The youth crash problem should be defined to encompass pedestrians, cyclists, and operators of snowmobiles, and ATVs, as well as drivers and passengers. While the focus should be on alcohol-related crashes, the increasing rate of drug-impaired driving should be addressed. In addition to recommendations relating directly to driving, measures should be proposed to reduce the hazardous patterns of alcohol and drug consumption that generate the impairment-related crash deaths. Finally, there is already considerable research on effective countermeasures and more attention should be focused on strategies to ensure that these countermeasures are adopted and implemented.


Potential Projects:

  • Incidents of Alcohol & Drug-Related Youth Crash Deaths:
    • Alcohol consumption
    • Drug use
    • Youth and driving
    • Characteristics of youth crashes:
    • When crashes occur;
    • Types of vehicles and crashes; and
    • Demographic characteristics of crashes.
    • Alcohol & drug use in youth traffic crashes
    • Alcohol & drug use in youth passenger deaths
    • Impairment in other youth crash deaths (motorcycles, snowmobiles, ATVs, bicycles, and pedestrians)
  • Regulation of Alcohol:
    • Minimum drinking age
    • Alcohol availability, taxes & prices
    • Regulatory measures geared to youth
    • Enforcement of liquor licence legislation:
    • Underage drinking; and
    • Binge drinking.
    • Alcohol-related civil liability
    • Server & manager training
    • Alcohol advertisement and marketing
  • Regulation of Drivers Licences:
    • Minimum driving age
    • Graduated licensing programs
    • 0% BAC limits for all drivers under 21 or for the first 5 years of driving
    • Driver education programs
    • Limits on cell phone use
  • Law Enforcement Approaches:
    • Enforcement of graduated licensing and 0% BAC restrictions
    • Systematic and targeted sobriety check points
    • Enforcement of drug-related driving prohibitions