Risky Teen Driving in a Rural Southern State

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Abstract

Objective

Alabama is one of the five US states with the highest teen driving mortality. We recruited teen drivers to participate in a questionnaire regarding high-risk driving behaviors.

Methods

Teens were recruited from a large county school system to participate in a voluntary anonymous survey. Questions were taken in part from the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Descriptive statistics and odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals were calculated.

Results

A total of 1023 teen drivers participated (46% boys, 47% African American, 39% white, 6% Latino, and 7% other). In all, 526 students (52%) reported inconsistent seat belt use. Half of the teens surveyed reported using a cellular telephone while driving within the past 30 days (51%); 10% admitted to driving after drinking alcoholic beverages in the past 30 days, with 23% saying they had ridden with a driver who had been drinking.

Conclusions

High-risk teen driving behaviors were reported by many of the participants in our study. The majority of teens surveyed do not routinely wear seatbelts. Common misperceptions still exist regarding seatbelts and should be a focus of future education. Future research should focus on parental behaviors and correcting misperceptions of young drivers.

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