Factors Increasing Risk of Alcohol-Related Traffic Crashes among Young Drivers

Young drivers generally drink and drive less frequently than do older drivers, but are more likely to crash their vehicles when they do drink/drive.

To identify factors associated with youthful alcohol-related driving crashes compared to older drivers, researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute examined Michigan State Police vehicular traffic crash records for teenagers and young adults age 16-19 (young drivers) with those of drivers age 45-65 (older drivers) who had at least one accident between 1989 and 1996. These data were adjusted to reflect estimated rates of alcohol-related crashes per person-miles driven.

Compared to older drivers, the risk of crash was greatest among young males who drank and drove with a passenger, at night, at night with a passenger, and on weekend nights. Among young females who drank and drove, the greatest risk of crash occurred when they drove while speeding, with a passenger and at night.

The authors conclude that policies and efforts to reduce alcohol-related traffic crashes among young drivers who drink and drive should focus on reducing the incidence of their driving with passengers, speeding, driving at night in general and driving on weekend nights in particular.



  • Bingham, C.R., Shope, J.T., Parow, J.E., & Raghunathan, T.E. Crash types: markers of increased risk of alcohol-involved crashes among teen drivers. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 2009, 70(4), 528-35.

Filed Under: Drinking and Driving