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J Safety Res. 2009;40(3):177-83. doi: 10.1016/j.jsr.2009.03.001. Epub 2009 May 3.

Does the built environment affect when American teens become drivers? Evidence from the 2001 National Household Travel Survey.

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  • 1Department of City and Regional Planning, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 317 New East Building CB 3140, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-3140, USA. noreen@unc.edu

Abstract

PROBLEM:

Motor vehicle crashes are the most common cause of death for American adolescents. However, the impact of where teens live on when they begin driving has not been studied.

METHOD:

Data from the 2001 National Household Travel Survey were used to estimate the effect of residential density on the driver status of teens aged 16 to 19 years after matching on demographic characteristics.

RESULTS:

Controlling for demographic characteristics, 16 and 17 year old teens in high density neighborhoods had driver rates 15 percentage points below teens living in less dense areas (p<0.001). The effect for 18 and 19 year olds was a 9 percentage point decrease (p<0.001).

SUMMARY:

These results suggest teens living in less dense and more sprawling communities initiate driving at a younger age than comparable teens in compact areas, placing them at increased risk for crash related injuries.

IMPACT ON INDUSTRY:

The role of environmental factors, such as neighborhood walkability and provision of transit, should be considered in young driver programs.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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