Study objective: The study examines whether there are socioeconomic differences among young motorcycle drivers (aged 16-25) involved in road-traffic injuries with regard to age and injury severity.
Design: Nationwide retrospective register-based cohort study.
Setting and participants: Subjects born in 1970-1972 were extracted from the Swedish Population and Housing Census of 1985 (n = 334,070). Individual records from the 1985 census were linked to police-reported data and hospital-based data for the period 1988-1995 on the basis of a search for each subject's first registered road-traffic injury as a motorcycle driver (n = 2034). Information on household socioeconomic group was taken from the Swedish census of 1985. Two categories of crash severity were analysed (minor injury and severe/fatal injury), based on assessments of the police and according to length of hospitalization.
Main results: Incidence of motorcycle injury varies considerably according to age of driver, reaching a peak at the age of 17. The greatest differences in injury risk between socioeconomic groups are present when their members are aged 17-19. At the age of 18, subjects belonging to low socioeconomic positions run a risk of injury occurrence 2.5 times higher than those belonging to the highest socioeconomic category. Young drivers in lower socioeconomic groups have higher odds for both minor and severe injuries than their counterparts in the highest socioeconomic group, but there is no further increase for the latter.
Conclusions: The study demonstrates how crucial the first years of driving are in relation to injury, and how wide the gap is in terms of socioeconomic differences at these ages, suggesting that this is the most appropriate time for intervention.