Crash Types: Markers of Increased Risk of Alcohol-Involved Crashes Among Teen Drivers

Objective: Teens drink/drive less often than adults but are more likely to crash when they do drink/drive. This study identified alcohol-related crash types for which teen drivers were at greater risk compared with adults. Method: Michigan State Police crash records for drivers ages 16-19 (teens) and 45-65 years (adults) who experienced at least one crash from 1989 to 1996 were used to create alcohol crash types consisting of alcohol-related crashes that included specific combinations of other crash characteristics, such as drinking and driving at night (i.e., alcohol/nighttime). These data were combined with data from the 1990 and 1995 National Personal Travel Surveys and the 2001 National Household Travel Survey to estimate rates and rate ratios of alcohol-related crash types based on person-miles driven. Results: Teens were relatively less likely than adults to be involved in alcohol-related crashes but were significantly more likely to be in alcohol-related crashes that included other crash characteristics. Teen males' crash risk was highest when drinking and driving with a passenger, at night, at night with a passenger, and at night on the weekend, and casualties were more likely to result from alcohol-related nighttime crashes. All the highest risk alcohol-related crash types for teen female drinking drivers involved casualties and were most likely to include speeding, passenger presence, and nighttime driving. Conclusions: The frequency with which passengers, nighttime or weekend driving, and speeding occurred in the highest risk alcohol-related crash types for teens suggests that these characteristics should be targeted by policies, programs, and enforcement to reduce teen alcohol-related crash rates. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs 70: 528-535, 2009)