UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Regional patterns in young driver and motorcyclist collision deaths in British Columbia, 2004 to 2012 Smith, Jennifer; Bobovski, Sophia; Ishikawa, Takuro; Rajabali, Fahra; Pike, Ian


Background: Motor vehicle collisions are a significant public health concern. Despite an encouraging downward trend in the number of young driver deaths in recent years, young drivers in BC still have the highest fatality rate per driver in the population. A better understanding of why crashes occur is needed to further reduce the young driver death rate. Methods: A retrospective analysis was undertaken using data abstracted from BC Coroners Service reports of fatally injured drivers 18 years and younger from 2004 to 2012. Overall annual fatality rates were calculated per 100 000 licensed drivers age 16 to 18. Fatalities were classified using five regions served by the BC Coroners Service: Fraser, Interior, Island, Metro (Vancouver, Burnaby, Delta, and Richmond), and Northern. Factors considered along with the region included age and sex of the deceased, injuries sustained, medical cause of death, vehicle type, vehicle age, vehicle condition, type of crash, number of passengers, weather and lighting conditions, restraint use, drug or alcohol involvement, and speed. Results: Regional patterns in fatalities were observed, with lower fatality rates in urban areas than in rural areas. As well, a striking number of young drivers from the Interior, Island, and Metro regions of BC were found to have died in nighttime crashes, while youth in other parts of the province were more often involved in daytime crashes. Speed and impairment were common and significant factors in motor vehicle collisions across the province. Nearly one-third of drivers were inadequately restrained. The majority of drivers were the sole occupants in their vehicles at the time of the crash. Conclusions: More needs to be done to reduce young driver and motorcyclist fatalities. Understanding regional patterns of risk and focusing on speed, nighttime driving, and impairment are imperative when targeting changes in youth behavior at the community level. Advocacy and clinician intervention might include supporting law-enforcement efforts and improved access to public transit, ride sharing, or safe drive programs, and alcohol and drug counseling for youth.

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