200004 Predicting Youth Crash Risk: Sensation Seeking, Propensity towards Substance Use and Relevant Risky Driving Practices

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 12:30 PM

Sally Margaret Dunlop, Dr , Annenberg Public Policy Center, The University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Daniel Romer, Dr , Annenberg Public Policy Center, The University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Background/Purpose: The current study tested a model predicting young driver motor vehicle crashes from substance use propensity. A secondary aim was to examine relevant risky driving practices for substance using youth.

Methods: A nationally representative sample of young drivers aged 16 to 22 (N = 436) completed a telephone survey with questions regarding sensation seeking, substance use (cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana), and driving practices (driving while under the influence of alcohol/drugs, driving while drowsy, driving while smoking). Structural equation modeling was used to explore the relationships between these variables and crashes. A secondary analysis was conducted to examine the relationships between substance-related driving practices and crashes.

Results/Outcomes: General propensity for substance use predicted crashes (over and above the influence of cigarette smoking, alcohol use or marijuana use), and this relationship was due in part to the relationship between substance use and sensation seeking. The secondary analysis showed that, though substance using youth showed higher rates of substance-related driving practices, there were no significant associations between these practices and crashes.

Conclusions: Youth with a propensity for substance use are at an increased risk for crashes. The higher crash risk for substance using youth is not due primarily to substance-related risky driving practices, but is likely an indicator of a general underlying risk tendency. Interventions for these youth should therefore focus on this risk rather than on specific substance-related driving practices.

Learning Objectives:
At the conclusion of the session, the participant in this session will be able to: 1. Describe the relationships between sensation seeking, substance use and crash risk for young drivers. 2. Discuss the role of substance-related risky driving practices in the crash risk of substance-using youth.

Keywords: Adolescents, Motor Vehicles

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a post-doctoral research fellow at the Adolescent Risk Institute of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. I have conducted survey research of this type for over 5 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.