208916 Dangerous Passengers?: Novice teen drivers' risk perceptions and behaviors

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lela S. Jacobsohn, PhD , The Center for Injury Research and Prevention, The Children's Hosptial of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Alana Vivolo, MPH, CHES , Division of Violence Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Flaura K. Winston, MD, PhD , The Center for Injury Research and Prevention, The Children's Hosptial of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among U.S. teens; a single passenger doubles the risk of fatal car crashes for teens, and 3 or more passengers increases the risk by 4-5 times. A better understanding of the relationship between teen driver's risk perceptions related to passengers and actual driving behaviors with dangerous passenger activity can inform design of critical prevention programs and policies. In this study, 625 14-17 year-olds from Pennsylvania or New Jersey participated in an online survey in 2008. Studied constructs included perceived risks of passenger behavior (i.e. of a passenger who is drunk and of driving with many teen passengers, or “piling”); frequency of driving with passengers; and frequency of driving with risky passenger behavior (i.e. driving friends who are using alcohol or marijuana, and piling). Correlation analyses showed significant relationships between risk perceptions and behaviors. Among licensed teen drivers, the perceived risk of a drunk passenger was significantly associated with frequency of driving friends who were using alcohol or marijuana (r=0.214, p<0.01). Those who perceived piling as dangerous were significantly less likely to drive with piling in the car (r=0.397, p<0.001). Possible opportunities to decrease teen drivers' acceptance of risky passenger behavior may involve targeting risk perceptions of these behaviors. The significant relationship between perceived risk and frequency of the studied driving behaviors can be used to inform intervention design and dissemination strategies. Successfully addressing risky passenger behavior may substantially contribute to prevention of future teen injuries and fatalities from motor vehicle crashes.

Learning Objectives:
1) Describe the prevalence of passenger carriage by teen drivers and risky passenger behavior. 2) Discuss the relationship between teen drivers' risk perceptions and frequency of driving with risky passenger behavior

Keywords: Adolescent Health, Injury Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: my work has focused on the adolescent population and prevention of unhealthy or risky behaviors such as my previous work on the evaluation of the National Youth Anti-drug Media Campaign at the Annenberg School for Communication and my current work at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia on crash and injury prevention among teen drivers.
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.