Because of their age and inexperience, young and novice drivers are more likely to be involved in fatal collisions.
According to Transport Canada, the fatal collision rate per 100,000 licensed drivers aged 16-19 was 6.5 in 2021, an increase of 5% compared to 2019 (6.2). For drivers 20-24, the rate was 8.6 in 2021, a decrease of 9% compared to 2019 (9.4). For licensed drivers 25 and older, the rate in 2021 was 6.2, a decrease of 32% from 2019 (9.1) The rate was highest for the 20-24 age group and lowest for the 25 and over age group.
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
- 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.
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.