Motor Vehicle Collisions during Adolescence: The Role of Alexithymic Traits and Defense Strategies

Behav Sci (Basel). 2021 May 21;11(6):79. doi: 10.3390/bs11060079.


International literature has shown that adolescents represent the population most at risk of fatal and nonfatal motor vehicle collisions (MVCs). Adolescents' alexithymic traits and significant use of immature defense strategies have been seen to play a key role. This study aimed to investigate the possible mediation role played by defense strategies use in the relationship between alexithymia and MVCs. Our sample consisted of 297 adolescents divided into four subgroups, based on the number of visits to the emergency department due to an MVC. We assessed adolescents' alexithymic traits and defense strategies use through self-report instruments. Results showed that males reported a higher rate of MVCs than females. Higher rates of MVCs are associated with more alexithymic traits and maladaptive defense strategies use. Adolescents' Acting Out and Omnipotence use significantly mediated the relationship between alexithymia and MVCs. Our findings suggest the recidivism of MVCs as an attempt to cope with emotional difficulties, with important clinical implications.

Keywords: adolescence; alexithymia; defense strategies use; motor vehicle collision.