Beacom School of Business South Dakota Kids Count

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Teen and Child Motor Vehicle Crash Data Report


Statistical analysis shows several factors can significantly predict a state’s child or teen rate of death resulting from motor vehicle crashes. These factors include:

The portion of a state’s highway miles that is rural - Very little can be done about the portion of a state’s roads that is rural; it is a factor of the state’s geography and population density. However, one can address this by ensuring adequate young driver licensing laws so that teenage drivers gain the necessary experience to handle the challenges of rural roads.

The portion of high school students who drive while drinking alcohol - Teen drivers are affected by alcohol more strongly than adults, making driving under the influence of alcohol more impairing to a teen. It follows, then, that states where a high portion of teens drive while drinking have a higher teen death rate.

The portion of high school students who have used tobacco at least once in the past month - Teen tobacco use is considered an indicator of propensity for risky behavior, and states with high teen tobacco use rates will see more incidences of driving while intoxicated and taking unnecessary risks while driving, such as exceeding the speed limit and having too many distractions in the vehicle.

The presence of a strong Young Driver Licensing program in the state - The only variable that was shown to have a moderating effect on traffic death rates was the presence of a rigorous Young Driver Licensing program. Depending on the state, YDL programs apply to young drivers between the ages of 14 and 18 and place restrictions on the young driver in an effort to promote safer driving practices.

The number of teens who are not in school and not working and live in single-parent families - States with a higher portion of single-parent families showed higher rates of teen deaths, illustrating the demands that are placed on such families. Unable to pay for quality child care to allow for the job commitments required to make ends meet, single parents may be forced to leave children and teens without adult supervision while they are not in school.