Role of Poverty in California Teenagers' Fatal Traffic Crash Risk

Mike Males
2009 Californian Journal of Health Promotion  
Teenagers' high rates of motor vehicle crashes, accounting for 40% of external deaths among 16-19 yearolds, have been ascribed largely to inherent "adolescent risk-taking" and developmental hazards. However, the fact that compared to adults 25 and older, teenagers are twice as likely to live in poverty and low-income areas, risk factors for many types of violent death, has not been assessed. This paper uses Fatality Analysis Reporting System data on 65,173 fatal motor vehicle crashes by drivers
more » ... in California's 35 most populous counties for 1994-2007 to analyze fatal crash involvements per 100 million miles driven by driver age, county, poverty status, and 15 other traffic safety-related variables. Fatal crash rates were substantially higher for every driver age group in poorer counties than in richer ones. Multivariate regression found socioeconomic factors, led by the low levels of licensing and high unemployment rates prevalent in low-income areas, were associated with nearly 60% of the variance in motor vehicle crash risks, compared to 3% associated with driver age. The strong association between fatal crash risk and poverty, especially for young drivers who are concentrated in high-poverty brackets and low-income areas, suggests that factors related to poorer environments constitute a major traffic safety risk requiring serious attention.
doi:10.32398/cjhp.v7i1.1316 fatcat:jgo77arx3za3lg4dishz654v4e