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SAEM: Risky Driving May Be on the Rise in Young Females

Ten-year study shows similar increase in alcohol-related fatal crashes among young men and women

THURSDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- Among teens and young adults, females are less likely than males to practice risky behaviors that lead to fatal crashes, such as drinking and driving and not wearing seat belts. But the gender gap may be closing, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine in Chicago.

Virginia W. Tsai, M.D., of the University of California-Irvine Medical Center, and colleagues obtained 1995-2004 data on nearly 139,000 fatal crashes involving subjects in three age groups: 16-18, 19-20 and 21-24 years.

Overall, the researchers found that young female drivers had a 13 percent lower proportion of alcohol involvement in fatal crashes. Over the 10-year period, however, young female drivers, especially those aged 21-24, had a similar increase in alcohol-related fatal crashes as young male drivers (1.3 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively). Although they found that females were 17.9 percent more likely than males to wear seat belts, they found that females had a smaller increase in seat belt use than males over the study period (7.5 percent versus 9.2 percent).

"Unfavorable trends are seen in the young female drivers: our results suggest a smaller increase in seat belt use and increase in alcohol-involved fatal crashes, suggesting changes for traffic safety policies," the authors conclude.

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