Teens and Traffic Safety

S. Dee Thomas and N. Evans William

in Risky Behavior among Youths

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2001 | ISBN: 9780226310138
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226309972 | DOI:
Teens and Traffic Safety

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Motor-vehicle fatalities are far and away the leading cause of death among young adults. In 1997 alone, there were 10,208 motor-vehicle fatalities among young adults aged 15–24, accounting for roughly one-third of all deaths in this age group. This chapter examines four broad questions about teen traffic safety: How has teen traffic safety changed in the past twenty-five years, and what are the possible causes of these changes? Why are teen drivers worse than adults? Who are the bad teen drivers? Which government policies have influenced teen traffic safety? The chapter first summarizes the traits and trends in teen traffic safety. It then discusses the observed characteristics of risky teen drivers by analyzing self-reports of hazardous driving practices. Finally, it looks at a number of important state policies that have been adopted over the past twenty-five years that have important ramifications for teen traffic safety. This discussion focuses on four classes of state-level policies: policies that influence youth access to alcohol, policies directed at the specific and general deterrence of drunk driving, mandatory seat-belt laws, and highway speed limits.

Keywords: young adults; traffic safety; government policies; hazardous driving; alcohol; drunk driving; seat-belt laws; speed limits

Chapter.  17056 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economics

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