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Young driver involvement in fatal motor vehicle crashes and trends in risk behaviors, United States, 1988–95
  1. Luciana Phebo,
  2. Ann M Dellinger
  1. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  1. Correspondence and reprint requests to: Dr Ann M Dellinger, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway NE, Mailstop K-63, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA (e-mail: amd1{at}


Objective—To review trends and risk factors in fatal motor vehicle crashes (MVCs) for drivers aged 15–20 years.

Methods—Fatality Analysis Reporting System data from 1988 to 1995 were used. Drivers were divided into three age strata: 15–17 years, 18–20 years, and ≥21 years. Comparisons were made based on rates of driver involvement in fatal MVCs, the percentage of drivers involved in night time fatal MVCs, fatal MVCs without the use of restraints, and fatal MVCs with positive blood alcohol concentration.

Results—Over the eight years, the rate of driver involvement in fatal MVCs for those 15–17 dropped 15.5%; for those 18–20 years it dropped 22.0%, and for those ≥21 years it declined 13.5%. When combining both age groups results were similar. In 1988, 60.4% of young drivers involved in fatal MVCs were not using restraints, but by 1995 the percentage dropped to 46.0%. Night time fatal crashes, the second most frequent risk behavior, declined from 41.7% in 1988 to 35.2% in 1995. Alcohol related traffic fatalities were responsible for 32.1% of fatal MVCs among young drivers in 1988 and for 20.3% in 1995.

Conclusion—To accelerate these trends, implementation and evaluation of complete graduated driver licensing systems (GDLSs) is recommended. Under GDLSs, young drivers are subject to zero alcohol tolerance, curfews, and passenger restraint requirements.

  • motor vehicle crash
  • night time driving
  • restraint use
  • blood alcohol concentration

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