Statement of Purpose The study objectives were to determine the driving characteristics and driving behavior of young drivers after concussion compared to non-injured controls.
Methods/Approach Young drivers 16–24 years of age with a valid driving license and access to a vehicle were recruited following emergency department care for concussion in previous 3 weeks, in absence of other significant injuries. Community controls were recruited from the same age group. Participants completed questionnaires on prior driving histories, the Multidimensional Driving Style Index (MDSI), and amount of driving after index date. Cars were fitted with a device to monitor speed, acceleration and lane changes for up to 12 weeks (mean 9.6 weeks among cases (n=38) and 10.1 weeks among controls (n=40).
Results 43 concussed participants and 42 controls were recruited, mean age 22.3 (SD 3.2 and 21.7 (4.6), and were 65% and 69% female, respectively. In the past week, 86% of cases and 100% of controls had driven at night, and 93% vs 88% respectively had driven on freeways. There were no differences on the MDSI between groups. Retention was 88% (38/43) among cases and 95% (40/42) among controls. Cases drove a mean of 16 minutes>70mph vs 13.5 minutes in controls, 91 vs 67 seconds over 80 mph, talked more on phones while driving (10.6 vs 4.7 minutes). There were no meaningful differences in braking events, acceleration, or cornering scores.
Conclusion Young drivers did not restrict the amount or places where they drove following concussion. Relative to control drivers, they were more likely to engage in risky behaviors of speeding and talking on phones while driving, despite no differences in their pre-injury driving characteristics.
Significance This study indicates worrisome driving behavior by youth after concussion, which may reflect impaired judgment, and places them and the public at risk of crash and injury.
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