Adolescent developmental antecedents of risky driving among young adults

J Stud Alcohol. 2004 Jan;65(1):84-94. doi: 10.15288/jsa.2004.65.84.


Objective: The risk of injury or death due to motor vehicle crash is highest from ages 16 to 35. Crash rates are associated with driver's gender, age, inexperience, emotional states, thrill seeking, personality factors and substance use. The developmental trajectories of psychosocial and nondriving problem behavior that lead to risky driving behavior, however, are not well understood. This study examined the longitudinal patterns of adolescent psychosocial behavior and substance use of five risky driving groups.

Method: Longitudinal data were gathered from 2,085 subjects (1,110 women) surveyed in young adulthood and at least once previously in high school (i.e., 10th and/or 12th grade). Based on young adult data, participants were classified into five groups differing in type and level of risky driving. Analyses compared the adolescent psychosocial and substance use development of the participants in the risky driving groups.

Results: A low level of parental monitoring, greater parental permissiveness, a weaker social bond and high levels of and rapid increases in substance use characterized the developmental trajectories of young adult risky drivers.

Conclusions: These developmental traits identify individuals who are likely to endanger themselves and others through risky driving and who should receive early interventions to reduce the likelihood of subsequent risky driving.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / psychology
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior* / psychology
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Automobile Driving / psychology
  • Automobile Driving / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic / methods
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Risk-Taking
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology