OBJECTIVES: To analyze data from motor vehicle crashes (MVCs) involving teenaged drivers in Kentucky for 1994, and derive cost estimates of these crashes. METHODS: Crash data were obtained from the Kentucky Traffic Accident Facts 1994 Report and the Kentucky Accident Reporting System. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Crash-Cost program was used to generate cost estimates for Kentucky data. RESULTS: Teenaged drivers had significantly higher MVC fatal and non-fatal injury rates than did adult drivers. The deaths rates were 43.6 and 19.0 per 100,000 for teens and adult drivers, respectively. Odds ratios (ORs) were calculated to estimate the relative risk for (1) involvement in an MVC, (2) fatal or incapacitating injury, and (3) fatal injury for teenaged compared with adult drivers. The crude ORs were statistically significant at each age. Cost estimates were calculated on a per person/vehicle basis. A single fatal injury was $642,700. A critical injury was $563,000. In general, unit costs rose with increasing levels of injury severity. For the total number of fatal injuries, costs exceeded $91 million. For non-fatal injuries and property damage only crashes, total costs were $318 million. Overall, the total cost estimate for MVCs involving teenaged drivers was nearly $410 million. CONCLUSIONS: Strategies aimed to reduce the number of MVCs attributed to teenaged drivers should reduce both the number and costs of crash related deaths and injuries. Graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems are one plausible approach toward achieving this goal. By recently enacting a GDL system in Kentucky, it is anticipated that many lives and dollars will be saved.
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