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What's at Risk from Unlicensed Teen Drivers: One in 25 Admit to Driving Without a License
Date:11/3/2008

es it possible to develop effective interventions to address unsafe behaviors that are linked to an elevated risk of injury and death. In addition to behavioral risk factors, the researchers identified demographic traits that are associated with a teen's likelihood to drive without a license. In the self-report survey, teens who live in central city or rural areas and identify themselves as African American or Hispanic were the most likely to say they drive without a license at least one hour per week. Researchers are careful not to oversimplify the issue, however.

"Not all kids who are driving unlicensed are doing so for the same reasons," explains Dr. Winston. "Some are simply more likely to take risks with their driving - such as driving under the influence - which prevent them from getting or keeping a license. However, there also may be teens who need to drive to work or school but are unable to obtain or maintain a license for reasons unrelated to driving behavior, such as unpaid fines or registration fees."

Unlicensed teens surveyed in the NYDS were much less likely to have attended a driver's ed class than licensed teens and were about four times more likely to report that "no one" taught them to drive compared to licensed teen drivers.

Further research is needed to better understand and address the obstacles teens face in obtaining a license. The study's authors note that while a license itself doesn't enhance safety, the licensure process may be protective if it helps teens and their families adhere to graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws and follow a systematic approach to learning to drive. Future research and outreach directed at teens from central city and rural areas may help to reduce the high rate of crash injury and fatality associated with unlicensed teens.

About the Young Driver Research Initiative

Motor vehicle crashes remain the No. 1 cause of death among teens in the United States. Teen drivers (ages 16 to 1
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SOURCE The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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