I’m going to focus not on how to create characters more quickly, but rather on how to avoid having to do so often.
Reduce the lethality of the game
D&D characters shouldn’t die that often; character death is supposed to be a fairly-rare occurrence. If characters are dying a lot, try to ease up on the difficulty. This is certainly easier to do if you are familiar with the game and its math, but even if you are not, fudging a few dice rolls, knocking some points off of damage and/or hp, can help. Leave out some of the minions, perhaps.
Buff player-character hit points
Particularly at 1st level, characters get very limited hp, and can easily die to one or two unlucky blows—the kind of thing that can all-too-easily happen too fast for them to get a turn to do something about it. Padding out their hp some can make them more likely to survive long enough to consider retreat.
The question then becomes, how much? I would say that you probably want some static number, not a level-scaling one—the idea here is to take some of the swinginess out of 1st level, not really to pump hp across the board. Instead of their 1st-level hp being just as if they had all rolled the maximum number on their hit dice (e.g. 12 for barbarian, 10 for fighter, 8 for cleric, etc.), make it that number plus actually rolling that hit die (or, better, taking the average), so barbarians start with 12+1d12+Con (or 12+7+Con) instead of just 12+Con, and so on. This gives them something approaching 2nd-level hp at 1st level, but as they gain levels the extra 4, 5, 6, or 7 hp will get washed out by the hp increases they gain.
But if 2nd-level hp sounds good...
Counter-intuitively, consider starting at a slightly-higher level
Higher levels present more to read and learn, and more choices to make. On the other hand, as discussed above, 1st-level characters are really prone to sudden and random death. You could fudge things to pump their hp, but really there’s more that 2nd-level characters have than just some more hp. Making a true higher-level character might take more work, but it should also make the character considerably more durable. And you don’t have to worry about whether or not your health buff is going to mess up other aspects of the game.
For this purpose, I usually recommend, and personally use, 3rd level, rather than 2nd. But for players really leery of getting into characters, though, 2nd probably makes more sense—not only does that simply less stuff, it also means that at least a few classes don’t have subclasses to pick (read: major decisions to make) yet, and spellcasters are still restricted to 1st-level spells (so they don’t have to consider another list).