1.  Seat Belts
2.  Drowsy Driving
3.  Distracted Driving
4.  Aggressive Driving/Road Rage
5.  Motorcycle Safety
6.  Impaired Driving
7.  Novice Drivers
8.  School Bus Safety
9.  Airbags
10.  Railway Safety
11.  Trucks
12.  Motor Vehicles
  1. Adolescents Most at Risk In Motor Vehicle Crashes
  2. Drinking and Driving Among U.S. High School Seniors, 1984-1997
  3. How Does Your Teen Do Behind the Wheel?
  4. Johns Hopkins Study: Passengers Boost Young Drivers' Crash Rate
  5. Leading causes of Teen Deaths
  6. NRSC: North Carolina Graduated Licensing Prevents Fatalities
  7. Teaching Teens to Drive
  8. Teenagers Admit To Unsafe Driving Behavior
  9. Teens Need More Sleep, Experts Say
  10. Young Drivers: A guide for Parents
  11. 1996 Youth Fatal Crash and Alcohol Facts

Adolescents Most at Risk In Motor Vehicle Crashes

Traffic-related and firearm-related injuries are the two leading causes of death among adolescents aged 10-19, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its Health, United States, 2000 Adolescent Health Chartbook.

In 1996-97, motor vehicle traffic injuries were the leading cause of death for children in this age group, averaging 6,260 deaths per year. Together, motor vehicle crashes and firearms accounted for 55 percent of all deaths and 75 percent of all injury deaths for adolescents.

Fatalities Jump With Age

For motor vehicle-related fatalities, rates increased substantially with age. Between ages 15 and 16, rates doubled. A similar increase at these ages was noted in emergency department visit rates for motor vehicle traffic-related injuries. Motor vehicle death rates for males 10-17 years were 1.3-1.7 times those for females; by ages 18 and 19, the death rates for males were 2.1-2.5 times higher than those for females.

Race and ethnic disparities were evident, although differences for males were "more pronounced." Among males and females, injury rates were highest among American Indian or Alaska Native adolescents and lowest among Asian or Pacific Islander adolescents. Rates among non-Hispanic white teenagers were higher than those of non-Hispanic black and Hispanic teenagers.

The high rates of motor vehicle-related deaths are partly due to adolescents' risky behaviors. In 1999, 33 percent of high school students reported that in the previous 30 days, they rode in a car with a driver who had been drinking alcohol, and 13 percent reported that they drove after drinking. Sixteen percent said they rarely or never wore safety belts. Overall, male students (21 percent) were significantly more likely than female students (12 percent) to have rarely or never worn belts.

One of the objectives of Healthy People 2010 is to reduce adolescent motor vehicle-related deaths and injuries involving alcohol and drugs. The objectives also call for increased use of safety belts and a reduction in the proportion of adolescents who report they rode during the previous 30 days with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.

This document was last updated on February 25, 2001.

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Drinking and Driving Among U.S. High School Seniors, 1984-1997

By Patrick M. O’Malley and Lloyd D. Johnson
89 (5) Am. J. of Pub. Health (May 1999)

By virtue of their immature judgement and rebellious nature, adolescents and young adults often lead the rest of society in behaviors that pose substantial risks to both themselves and their community. This pattern seems particularly valid when it comes to alcohol-related auto crashes and DUI/DWI crimes. It is for this reason that O’Malley and Johnson undertook to establish statistical trends on rates of youth drunk driving over the past 15 years, as well as behaviors and social categories that influence those rates.

To accurately calculate the rate of drunk driving among young adults, O’Malley and Johnson gathered the results of the Monitoring the Future Study from between 1984 and 1997. Monitoring the Future is a series of questionnaires administered annually to 17,000 12th graders in 135 high schools across the nation. In addition to gathering background information on students, such as race, parental education levels, and religious commitment, the study sought to ascertain their levels of illicit behavior, including drug and alcohol use and truancy habits. Since 1984, the questionnaire has also featured inquiries about experiences with drunk driving.

From the 13 years in which statistical data was gathered, the pattern of youth drunk driving seems encouraging. In 1984, the number of teens who answered that they had driven after drinking during the past two weeks was 31.2%. By 1995, that number dropped to 15.05%, rising slightly to 18.3% in 1997. A similar trend emerged when a student answers regarding being a passenger in an automobile with an intoxicated driver were examined. In 1984, 44.2% of respondents answered that they had ridden with a drunk driver in the previous two weeks. This rate reached its low point in 1995, bottoming out at 23.1% before rising to 26.1% in 1997.

This and other data led the study’s authors to several conclusions. One conclusion is that although substantial progress had been made between 1984 and 1995, some relapse occurred in the last two years during which data was collected. This pattern was largely attributed to the way in which young people, influenced b the media and their immediate social surroundings, viewed the acceptability of drinking and driving.

In analyzing data gathered by Monitoring the Future on the lifestyles and demographics of America’s high school seniors, O’Malley and Johnson were able to reach several more conclusions on youth and drunk driving. These include the following:

  • Adolescent DUI/DWI offenses split down the gender line: male 12th graders were much more likely to report drunk driving than their female counterparts.
  • The scholastic achievement of students is not an accurate indicator of whether or not they will involve themselves in DUI/DWI offenses.
  • Those students enrolled in Northeastern and Western high schools were less likely to drive while intoxicated, or ride with those who were, than similar students in the Southern and North Central regions of the country.
  • Seniors who described themselves as highly committed to religion were less likely to engage in all alcohol-related driving activities than those who described themselves as moderately or minimally committed to religion.

Available from: Patrick M. O’Malley, Ph.D., Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248; pomalley@umich.edu.

This document was posted on January 7, 2000.

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How Does Your Teen Do Behind the Wheel?

Now that school's out, summer jobs, parties and activities give teenagers many reasons to get into the driver's seat -- but that can be a risky place for a teen. Young motorists generally lack driving experience and may not use good judgment, contributing to riskier driving behaviors. A recent survey conducted by Liberty Mutual and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions/Students Against Driving Drunk) found that 77% of young drivers exceed the speed limit. And 39% of teen drivers don't wear seat belts. Not surprisingly, motor vehicle accidents represent the leading cause of death among 13- to 19-year-olds in the United States, killing more than 5,000 teenagers each year. That's why it's so important for teens to take extra precautions when driving and to buckle up every time they get into a car -- no matter who is at the wheel.

Lead by Example

Seat belts have been credited with reducing the risk of fatal injury in a car crash by as much as 45%. Yet despite widespread understanding of the protection seat belts offer, many teens still don't buckle up. According to the Liberty Mutual/SADD study, almost one fourth (23%) of teens rarely or never wear seat belts when they drive, and 16% wear seat belts only occasionally when another teen is driving. Misperceptions may often contribute to unsafe practices: "If I get into an accident, I'll be able to brace myself against the steering wheel," explained one teen. Make sure your children understand the difference a seat belt can make in the event of a crash. Encourage them to buckle up, and set a good example for your children by always using your own seat belt.

Don't Mix Drinks With Driving

Although the nationwide minimum drinking age is 21, alcohol plays a part in more than a third of all fatal motor vehicle crashes involving teenagers. The Liberty Mutual/SADD study indicated that 78% of teens report they never drink and drive. However, 40% of teens admit to riding with a teen driver who was impaired or intoxicated. The summer season may be an especially risky time, since teens may attend parties where alcohol is available. You can help protect your children by teaching them the risks associated with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Explain the idea behind a designated driver. Consider agreeing to -- and signing -- a pact for safety like the SADD Contract for Life. And remember that actions speak louder than words: You should follow the same rules that you set for your children.

Make Learning a Gradual Process

Graduated licensing laws impose restrictions on newly licensed drivers that may help to keep teens safe on the road. Some states with curfew laws, for example, have reported lower motor vehicle crash rates than other states. Although your child can't get a license any earlier than your state allows, you can make your own decision about when your child is mature enough to handle the responsibilities of a driver's license. In addition, consider setting -- and enforcing -- your own curfews or other restrictions on when, where and with whom they drive.

Remember that children often follow their parents' example. Next time you get into a car with your children, be aware of your own driving behaviors. And, of course, buckle up. Keep in mind that you may be demonstration to your children what they should do.

This document was last updated on February 25, 2001.

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Johns Hopkins Study: Passengers Boost Young Drivers' Crash Rate

North Carolina's graduated license law (GDL) is saving lives and preventing injuries among teenagers, according to a recent study by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC). Sixteen-year-old drivers in North Carolina were involved in 26 percent fewer crashes in 1999 than in 1997, the year the state's GDL was enacted. Also, injuries and fatalities among these drivers dropped 29 percent during the same time period.

A restriction on unsupervised nighttime driving by novice drivers is a principal component of GDL, and this restriction is working as anticipated, according to the study. While crashes involving 16-year-old drivers declined 22 percent during the period from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., the decrease was 47 percent during the restricted hours of 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

In 1997, 13 drivers aged 16 years old were killed between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. In 1999, only one 16-year-old was killed, noted Dr. Rob Foss, the primary author of the study. "GDL is doing exactly what it was intended to do ... There is ample reason to believe that a permanent decrease in young driver crashes will result from the GDL system," Foss said.

In the future, GDL studies will examine the effects on 17-year-old drivers to determine which elements of the system produce the greatest results and what enduring effects there may be on drivers after they finish the GDL program.

For more information, call Jill Warren, Governor's Highway Safety Program, (919) 733-3083.

This document was last updated on February 25, 2001.

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HSRC: North Carolina Graduated Licensing Prevents Fatalities

North Carolina's graduated license law (GDL) is saving lives and preventing injuries among teenagers, according to a recent study by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC). Sixteen-year-old drivers in North Carolina were involved in 26 percent fewer crashes in 1999 than in 1997, the year the state's GDL was enacted. Also, injuries and fatalities among these drivers dropped 29 percent during the same time period.

A restriction on unsupervised nighttime driving by novice drivers is a principal component of GDL, and this restriction is working as anticipated, according to the study. While crashes involving 16-year-old drivers declined 22 percent during the period from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., the decrease was 47 percent during the restricted hours of 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

In 1997, 13 drivers aged 16 years old were killed between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. In 1999, only one 16-year-old was killed, noted Dr. Rob Foss, the primary author of the study. "GDL is doing exactly what it was intended to do ... There is ample reason to believe that a permanent decrease in young driver crashes will result from the GDL system," Foss said.

In the future, GDL studies will examine the effects on 17-year-old drivers to determine which elements of the system produce the greatest results and what enduring effects there may be on drivers after they finish the GDL program.

For more information, call Jill Warren, Governor's Highway Safety Program, (919) 733-3083.

This document was last updated on February 25, 2001.

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Teaching Teens to Drive

Safe America

Here are facts parents do NOT want to hear:

  • Car crashes are the leading cause of death and leading health problem for ages 13-19
  • As drivers and passengers, teenagers are more likely to be involved in motor vehicle crashes than any other group
  • Nearly half of all deaths of ages 16-18 are related to motor vehicles
  • The child you love will eventually have a drivers' license

To help parents guide the new driver in the family, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Association of Governor's Highway Safety Representatives offer these lifesaving suggestions:

  1. Enroll your new driver in a defensive driving class to gain the skills needed to handle driving challenges.
  2. If you (as Parent) are the teacher, keep the sessions short; keep a constructive, helpful tone; start slowly and be patient; confine practice to quiet streets and large open parking lots.
  3. Establish house rules with your teen - restrict nighttime driving and limit driving hours. Make certain roads and locations off limits. Set penalties and enforce the.
  4. Slowly increase driving privileges as your teen gains experience, confidence and maturity.
  5. Require that your teen maintain good grades.
  6. Set a good driving example-no drinking and driving, no speeding, wear safety belts.
  7. Let your teen know that you will not tolerate driving after drinking and always be available to give them a ride home.
  8. Be alert to any signs that your teen has a drinking or drug abuse problem.
  9. Encourage schools to teach about the dangers of drinking/drug use while driving.

The Safe America Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to injury prevention and the practice of good safety habits through the distribution of safety products and innovative educational programs. For more information call: 770-218-0071 or email: safeamerica@mindspring.com

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Teenagers Admit To Unsafe Driving Behaviors

According to a new survey, 70 percent of teenagers speed, 39 percent never wear safety belts or wear then only occasionally, and 21 percent drive after drinking. Seven hundred teenagers and 400 parents were surveyed by Students Against Destructive Decisions/Students Against Driving Drunk (SADD) and the Liberty Mutual Group.

"These findings about seat belts, speeding, and driving under the influence tell us why motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of young people in the United States," said John Conners, executive vice president and manager of Liberty Mutual's personal insurance operations.

Conners pointed out statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that show that 64 percent of the teenagers who were killed in crashes in 1998 were not wearing safety belts, and more than one-third of the teenagers involved in fatal crashes were speeding. "Yet almost 40 percent of the teens we talked to still tempt fate by refusing to buckle up," Conners said. "Clearly, we must do a better job of educating young people about the tragic results of unsafe driving behaviors."

Summer is the most dangerous period for young drivers, and more teenagers die in motor vehicle crashes in June, July, and August than during any other months, according to SADD national chairman and CEO Stephen Wallace. Wallace believes fatalities may peak in the summer because teenagers have more unstructured time and more opportunities to drive. Parent may also "relax their vigilance" over their children's activities.

SADD and Liberty Mutual believe teenagers can be safer drivers with the help of friends and family. "This is a real opportunity for teens to support each other, and we encourage them to enter into a pact among themselves where they agree not to drive after drinking or ride with an impaired driver, or let their friends take these risks," Conners said.

For more information, contact SADD, (800) 787-5777; website www.saddonline.com.

This document was last updated on June 16, 2000.

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Teens Need More Sleep, Experts Say

"Almost all high school and college students do not get enough sleep," states Dr. William C. Dement, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Stanford University. "They are at risk for a number of serious consequences, including poor performance at school, increased incidence of automobile accidents, increased moodiness, and increased use of stimulants and alcohol."

A recent National Academy of Sciences forum, entitled The Sleep Needs, Patterns, and Difficulties of Adolescents, looked at teenagers' sleep patterns and found that the nation's teenagers are tired, tired, tired. While teens need around 8 to 9 1 /4 hours of sleep per night, surveys show that during the week high school students actually get an average of 7 hours, and 26 percent sleep 6 hours or less per night. Teens have a natural biological clock that makes it difficult for them to go to bed before 11:00 p.m. The result is that they stay up late, get up early, and walk around sleepy all day.

The consequences of teen sleeplessness can be serious. A paper from the National Sleep Foundation observed that sleep deprivation causes increased risk of unintentional injuries and death. Lack of adequate sleep slows reaction time, causes lapses in attention, and exacerbates emotional and behavioral problems. Keeping different sleep schedules on weekends, as many teens do, can also cause fragmented sleep and make it harder for teens to fall asleep at their regular time.

To help teens get enough sleep, experts at the forum recommended later school starting times for high schools and shorter working hours after school. Setting and keeping consistent sleep schedules - going to bed and getting up at about the same time every day-are also important to maintaining mental alertness, the experts say.

Parents in particular should remember that teenagers and young adults from 16 to 25, especially males, have the highest risk for drowsy driving crashes. Such crashes are not related to the teen's overall driving ability or driving record. In one well-known and tragic case, Michael Doucette was named the country 's safest teen driver in 1989 and received use of a Dodge Shadow for a year. In February of 1990 he fell asleep at the wheel and drifted across the center line, killing himself and the driver of an oncoming car.

This document was posted on January 6, 1999.

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1996 Youth Fatal Crash and Alcohol Facts

Much feared but long expected, youth alcohol-related fatalities increased in 1996. With an increasing youth population and continued increases in teenage binge drinking the outcomewas predictable. This despite the fact that alcohol-related fatalities for all ages decreased. Youth (ages 15 through 20) alcohol-related fatalities increased by almost 5 percent, the youth population increased by nearly 3 percent and over 30 percent of high school seniors reported binge drinking.

The increase in youth alcohol-related fatalities is the first since 1990 and only the third increase in fourteen years. So, a general downward trend is prevalent and is the hope for the future.

There is good reason for hope. Even though the youth population will continue to grow, some self-reported high school senior drinking behaviors are decreasing (ever used, yearly use and monthly use). Forty-six states have now passed zero tolerance laws (as of January, 1998). Age 21 "drinking laws" remain in all states and continue to save lives (an estimated 846 in 1996 alone).

Many organizations, including most of the national drinking driving organizations, continue to focus on youth issues. Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID) remains a national leader on the issue of alcohol poisoning among youth. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) convened a national youth summit in 1997 in which young people from almost every congressional district in the country voiced their support of strong drinking prevention programs for youth. Students Against Driving Drunk (SADD) initiated a national "2000 X 2000 Campaign" to reduce youth alcohol-related fatalities to 2,000 by the end of the year 2000. SADD also changed its name to Students Against Destructive Decisions to expand its mission to other traffic safety, drinking and drug use issues. The 1997 Conference of the National Commission Against Drunk Driving (NCADD) introduced information on effective ways to reach the "Millennial Generation", those born 1982 and after, whose numbers will reach 78 million. The messages which will resonate with this group will be very different than those which were effective with the youth of the past 20 years.


What can you or your organization do to prevent alcohol-related crashes by youth?
  • Encourage police agencies to be proactive in the enforcement of zero tolerance and age 21 drinking laws. Encourage young people to obey these laws.
  • Support the enactment of graduated licensing laws. These laws will provide young people with more behind-the-wheel experience before they secure full driving privileges.
  • Support primary seat belt laws. Young people continue to die or become seriously injured at greater rates than the older population because they do not wear seat belts. This is particularly true in alcohol-related crashes.
  • Support the efforts of young people who are engaged in the prevention of alcohol use and impaired driving by their peers.

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