Statement of Purpose Motor vehicle crash risk is highest among teen drivers. The current study sought to examine the contribution of GDL-related licensure restrictions, gender, age, roadway circumstances, and citation history to teen drivers’ crash culpability.
Methods/Approach Crash system data from the Iowa Department of Transportation was linked with traffic-related charges from the Iowa Court Information System. Crashes involving teens aged 13 to 17 years between 2016 and 2019 were analyzed. Culpability was determined using the contributing cause from the crash report. Traffic-related charges were coded for moving violations.
Results Teen drivers were determined to be culpable for 68.40% of the 15,180 crashes examined. Male teen drivers were deemed culpable for 70.93% of crashes compared to 66.08% culpability for females (p<.001). Teen driver culpability was higher for crashes that occurred in rural (78.84%) compared to urban areas (65.33%; p<.001) and during the hours of Iowa’s GDL nighttime restriction (77.67%) as compared to crashes that occurred during permitted driving hours (68.31; p=.004). A multivariable logistic regression indicated that teen driver culpability was more likely among males compared to females (OR = 1.22, 95% CI = 1.14, 1.31), when roadway contributing circumstances (e.g., surface conditions, obscured signal) were cited in the crash report (OR = 1.36, 95% CI = 1.23, 1.50), and when in rural (OR = 1.90, 95% CI = 1.74, 2.08) compared to urban areas. Conversely, teen drivers with a history of moving violations were less likely to be culpable than those without (OR = 0.83, 95% CI = 0.69, 0.98).
Conclusion Several factors including gender, crash location, and roadway contributing circumstances are associated with teen driver crash culpability. Previous moving violations may play a protective role in teen crash culpability.
Significance This analysis contributes information about citation history and crash culpability, a gap in existing research on teen driving risk.
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