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Acad Emerg Med. 2007 Oct;14(10):850-5.

Comparison of teen driver fatality rates by vehicle type in the United States.

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  • 1Injury Research Center, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.



To compare national fatality rates for teen drivers by vehicle type.


Fatality rates were calculated for 16- to 19-year-old drivers by vehicle type using data from the Fatal Analysis Reporting System (1999-2003) and estimates of miles driven from the National Household Transportation Survey (2001). Relative fatality risks for teen drivers of sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and pickups were calculated using passenger cars as a reference.


Per vehicle mile driven, the fatality risk for both male and female teens driving SUVs was decreased relative to passenger car drivers (male teens: relative risk [RR], 0.33 [95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.29 to 0.37]; female teens: RR, 0.45 [95% CI = 0.34 to 0.59]). Fatality rates for male teens driving pickups were also lower per mile driven compared with male passenger car drivers (RR, 0.55 [95% CI = 0.51 to 0.60]). Fatality rates for female teens driving pickups and passenger cars were not statistically different but appear potentially higher for pickups (RR, 1.19 [95% CI = 0.98 to 1.44]). Both SUVs and pickups demonstrated significantly higher rates of fatal rollovers than passenger cars. Female adolescent drivers of SUVs and pickups were at particularly high risk for fatal rollovers per vehicle mile driven compared with passenger cars (SUV: RR, 1.88 [95% CI = 1.19 to 2.96]; pickup: RR, 3.42 [95% CI = 2.29 to 5.10]).


Fatality rates for teen drivers vary significantly by vehicle type. From 1999 to 2003 in the United States, fatal rollovers were significantly more likely per mile driven for teen drivers of both SUVs and pickups compared with passenger cars. However, overall fatality rates (i.e., all crash types) for teen drivers of SUVs and male drivers of pickups were lower per mile driven than for teen drivers of passenger cars. The results of this ecological analysis cannot predict the individual-level fatality risk for teens driving different vehicle types. However, the significant variability in fatality rates among SUVs, pickups, and passenger cars seen at a population level suggests that vehicle choice should be further explored as a potentially modifiable risk factor in interventions to address teen driver safety.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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