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Alcohol involvement among young female drivers in US fatal crashes: unfavourable trends
  1. Virginia W Tsai1,
  2. Craig L Anderson2,
  3. Federico E Vaca3
  1. 1Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, University of California San Diego, School of Medicine Rady Children's Hospital, San Diego, California, USA
  2. 2Department of Emergency Medicine, Center for Trauma and Injury Prevention Research, University of California Irvine, School of Medicine, Irvine, California, USA
  3. 3Department of Emergency Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Federico E Vaca, Department of Emergency Medicine, Yale University, 464 Congress Avenue Suite 260, New Haven, CT 06519-1315, USA; federico.vaca{at}


Objective Young men have greater representation in fatal alcohol-related crashes. Recent studies of young women and risky behaviours have raised concerns about the implications this may have for alcohol-related fatal crashes. The objective of this study was to investigate the representation of young female drivers in US alcohol-involved fatal crashes (1995–2007) and to identify trends heralding future negative changes in crash profiles for young female drivers.

Design Fatal crash data were obtained from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Five age groups were analysed. The FARS multiple imputation dataset was used to estimate the proportion of drivers with blood alcohol, and variance estimates were corrected for the procedure. Linear regression was used to measure trends (1995–2007).

Results 179 891 fatal crashes in all age groups occurred over the study period. The rate of involvement in fatal crashes for young drivers with positive blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) decreased for men and women aged 16 years but increased for women age 19–24 years. Young female drivers had a greater increase than young men in the proportion of alcohol-involved fatal crashes (3.1%, 95% CI 1.9 to 4.3% vs 1.2%, 95% CI 0.2 to 2.1%, p=0.02). Most of the increase occurred in drivers with BAC ≥0.15 g/dl. Drivers with higher BAC had markedly lower safety restraint use. Over time restraint use increased in all BAC groups studied.

Conclusion Alcohol-involved fatal crash rates in young female drivers aged 19–24 years have increased. However, male drivers continue to surpass women in the number of alcohol-involved fatal crashes. Restraint use decreases markedly with increasing BAC.

  • Adolescent
  • alcohol
  • behavioral
  • driver
  • fatal crashes
  • impaired driving
  • MVTC
  • young women
  • BAC
  • blood alcohol concentration
  • FARS
  • fatal analysis reporting system
  • national highway traffic safety administration
  • US
  • United States

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.