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Teenage Driver Crash Incidence and Factors Influencing Crash Injury by Rurality

BACKGROUND: Previous research has identified teenage drivers as having an increased risk for motor-vehicle crash injury compared with older drivers, and rural roads as having increased crash severity compared with urban roads. Few studies have examined incidence and characteristics of teen driver-involved crashes on rural and urban roads.

METHODS: All crashes involving a driver aged 10 through 18 were identified from the Iowa Department of Transportation crash data from 2002 through 2008. Rates of overall crashes and fatal or severe injury crashes were calculated for urban, suburban, rural, and remote rural areas. The distribution of driver and crash characteristics were compared between rural and urban crashes. Logistic regression was used to identify driver and crash characteristics associated with increased odds of fatal or severe injury among urban and rural crashes.

RESULTS: For younger teen drivers (age 10 through 15), overall crash rates were higher for more rural areas, although for older teen drivers (age 16 through 18) the overall crash rates were lower for rural areas. Rural teen crashes were nearly five times more likely to lead to a fatal or severe injury crash than urban teen crashes. Rural crashes were more likely to involve single vehicles, be late at night, involve a failure to yield the right-of-way and crossing the center divider.

CONCLUSIONS: Intervention programs to increase safe teen driving in rural areas need to address specific risk factors associated with rural roadways.

IMPACT ON INDUSTRY: Teen crashes cause lost work time for teen workers as well as their parents. Industries such as safety, health care, and insurance have a vested interest in enhanced vehicle safety, and these efforts should address risks and injury differentials in urban and rural roadways.

Peek-Asa, C., Britton, C., Young, T., Pawlovich, M., & Falb, S. Teenage Driver Crash Incidence and Factors Influencing Crash Injury by Rurality. 41 6 487-92. 10.1016/j.jsr.2010.10.002.