Purpose: To examine national trends in transportation-related injury risk and safety behaviors among U.S. high school students.
Methods: To examine secular trends in riding with a driver who had been drinking, driving after drinking, and using seat belts, bicycle helmets, and motorcycle helmets, we used logistic regression to analyze data from national Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) conducted in 1991, 1993, 1995, and 1997. The YRBS is a self-administered, anonymous survey that uses a national probability sample of U.S. students in public and private schools from grades 9-12 (N = 55,734 for all years combined).
Results: The percentages of students who rode with a driver who had been drinking (36.6% in 1997), drove after drinking alcohol (16.9% in 1997), always wore seat belts (33.2% in 1997), and always wore a motorcycle helmet when riding a motorcycle (45.0% in 1997) remained stable between 1991 and 1997. From 1991 to 1997, the percentage of bicycle riders who always wore a helmet when bicycling showed a small but statistically significant increase (1.1% in 1991 to 3.8% in 1997), but helmet use remained low.
Conclusion: Many young people place themselves at unnecessary risk for motor vehicle- and bicycle-related crash injuries and fatalities. Improved motor vehicle- and bicycle-related injury prevention strategies are needed that specifically target adolescents.