Road Safety Information

Young and Novice Drivers

Last Updated on October 12, 2021

Because of their age and inexperience, young and novice drivers are more likely to be involved in fatal collisions.

Prevalence:

According to Transport Canada’s National Collision Database (NDDC)[1]https://tc.canada.ca/en/road-transportation/statistics-data/canadian-motor-vehicle-traffic-collision-statistics-2019, the fatal collision rate per 100,000 licensed drivers aged 15-19 in 2008 was 21.5 but it dropped to 6.4 in 2019, a drop of 70 percent. For drivers 20-24, the rate was 20.7 in 2008 and 9.4 in 2019, a decrease of 55 percent. For licensed drivers 25 and older, the rate in 2008 was 11.8 but in 2019, it was 9.1, a decline of 23 percent. While the rate decreased more for young drivers, their rate was still higher than that for drivers 25 or older.

The figure below shows the percentage of fatalities in collisions involving young drivers (15 to 24 years old) in 2017. The data are grouped by type of road user.

Percentage of fatalities in collisions involving young drivers by road user type in 2017

Illustration showing the percentage of fatalities in collisions involving young drivers by road user type in 2017.

  • 39 percent of those fatally injured were the young drivers themselves;
  • 16 percent were passengers of young drivers;
  • 34 percent were occupants of other vehicles involved in the collision;
  • 9 percent were pedestrians;
  • 1 percent were bicyclists.

https://wwwapps2.tc.gc.ca/Saf-Sec-Sur/7/NCDB-BNDC/p.aspx?l=en

Countermeasure:

Over the past decade, young and novice drivers have become less involved in fatal and serious injury collisions.  Several factors have likely helped to reduce these types of collisions. One is the ongoing success of Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Programs which now exist in all Canadian jurisdictions. These GDL Programs allow young and novice drivers to gradually gain driving experience in lower risk driving situations. There is usually a twelve-month novice driver phase. Novice drivers are subject to several rules, including:

  • being at least 16 years old,
  • only driving with an experienced licensed driver,
  • requiring all occupants of a vehicle to wear seat belts.

Typically, the novice driver is restricted from:

  • using any alcohol or drugs,
  • driving late at night,
  • driving with young passengers,
  • driving on highways.

After this first phase of GDL, there is an approximately twelve-month “intermediate” or “practice” phase (varies by jurisdiction). This second phase maintains some but not all the restrictions (e.g., zero blood alcohol concentration, no drugs, and all vehicle occupants must be belted). Some jurisdictions require driving tests at the end of each phase of GDL.

Some jurisdictions like Ontario and Quebec also have a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol and drug use for drivers under 21, even if they have graduated from a GDL Program.

More information about how these GDL programs work can be found on the Traffic Injury Research Foundation’s GDL Framework Safety Center website (https://gdlframework.tirf.ca).

Manitoba Public Insurance has officially launched its new high school driver education program, branded “Driver Z” (https://www.mpi.mb.ca/Pages/driver-z.aspx). The program features a progressive curriculum design, new technology elements, and a new delivery model that offers extended, interactive engagement with students. In September 2019, Prince Edward Island introduced a “Novice Driver Course for Newcomers” for drivers exchanging a driver’s licence from a country that does not have a formal driver licence exchange agreement with the province https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/transportation-infrastructure-and-energy/novice-driver-course-newcomers-ndcn.

Young and Novice Drivers FAQs:

What is the rate of fatal collisions involving young drivers?
The fatal collision rate per 100,000 licensed drivers aged 15-19 in 2008 was 21.5 but it dropped to 6.4 in 2019, a drop of 70 percent. For drivers 20-24, the rate was 20.7 in 2008 and 9.4 in 2019, a decrease of 55 percent.
What has been done to improve the safety of young and novice drivers?
Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Programs exist in all Canadian jurisdictions. GDL Programs slowly introduce young and novice drivers to driving by keeping them out of higher risk situations. Typically, the driver is prohibited or restricted from using any alcohol or drugs, driving late at night, driving with young passengers, or driving on highways. There is usually a twelve-month new driver phase, although the time varies by jurisdiction.
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