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J Adolesc Health. 2005 Jan;36(1):5-8.

High school off-campus lunch policies and adolescent motor vehicle crash risks.

Author information

1
University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA. lstone@unch.unc.edu

Abstract

PURPOSE:

To examine differences in motor vehicle crash involvement for teenagers in communities with and without school policies enabling teens to drive off campus during lunchtime.

METHODS:

Comparison of lunchtime motor vehicle crashes involving teen drivers in two North Carolina counties having open-lunch policies with a third county without an open-lunch policy. We also compare crash rates during the before-school period and at all times of the day in the three counties. Data were analyzed by computing rate ratios of teens' involvement in a crash during the three time periods and comparing them among the three counties.

RESULTS:

Crash rates over the lunch hours were significantly higher for teenagers in the counties with open-lunch policies, despite these counties having no elevated crash risk during other time periods. This resulted in a relative risk of lunchtime crash involvement of 3.10 and 2.98 (95% CI 1.97-4.89 and 1.87-4.74, respectively) compared with the county without an open-lunch policy. Number of vehicle occupants also increased during the lunch hours in the counties with open-lunch policies.

CONCLUSIONS:

Open-lunch policies contribute to motor vehicle crashes in teenagers and encourage a situation where there are multiple occupants per vehicle, a known risk factor for teenage motor vehicle crashes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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