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Changes in young adult offense and crash patterns over time

In: Accident Analysis and Prevention, Vol. 33, No. 1, 2001, p. 117-128; DOI: 10.1016/S0001-4575(00)00022-1

Authors: Patricia F. Waller, Michael R. Elliott, Jean T. Shope, Trivellore E. Raghunathan, Roderick J. A. Little

A study of 13 809 young adult drivers in Michigan examined offenses and crashes (‘incidents’) for an average of 7 years after their original license date. During this period, 73% of subjects committed an offense that resulted in a conviction and 58% had a crash that was reported to the police. Forty-two percent had committed an offense classified as ‘serious,’ and 21% had an ‘at-fault’ crash. The odds of an offense being serious decreased approximately 8% per year of licensure, independent of gender or age at licensure. Similarly, the odds of a crash being at-fault decreased overall about 6% per year of licensure, but the decline was more than twice as fast for women as for men. Examining the empirical rates directly, it was found that the rate for minor offenses increased somewhat with time and then stabilized, while the rate for serious offenses declined. Also, offenses were less likely to be serious the later they occurred in the sequence of offenses for an individual. For crashes, the risk of having an at-fault crash declined more rapidly than the risk of a not-at-fault crash, although the rate of decrease began to equalize after approximately 5 years of licensure. The proportion of crashes that were at-fault did not decline over the sequence of crashes for an individual. Although crashes and offenses are positively correlated, they follow different trajectories over the early years of licensure.