Healthy People 2010 - With Annotations
Reduce injuries, disabilities, and deaths due to unintentional injuries and violence.
15-22. Increase the number of States and the District of Columbia that have adopted a graduated driver licensing model law.
Motor vehicle crashes remain a major public health problem. They are the leading cause of death for persons in the United States aged 5 to 29 years. In 1998, 41,471 persons died in motor vehicle crashes.(35) Thirty-eight percent of these deaths occurred in alcohol-related crashes.(35) The motor vehicle death rate per 100,000 persons is especially high among persons aged 16 to 24 years and persons aged 75 years and older. Safety belts, when worn correctly, are the most effective way for occupants to reduce the risk of death and serious injury in a motor vehicle crash on public roads (including those on Indian Reservations). As of December 1998, the national safety belt use rate was 69 percent.
In 1998, 69,000 pedestrians were injured and 5,220 were killed in traffic crashes in the United States. On average, a pedestrian is killed in a motor vehicle crash every 101 minutes, and one is injured every 8 minutes.(36)
In 1998, persons aged 70 years and older made up 9 percent of the population but accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities and 18 percent of all pedestrian fatalities. Compared with the fatality rate for drivers aged 25 through 69 years, the rate for drivers in the oldest group is 9 times higher.(37)
Older persons also are more susceptible than younger persons to medical complications following motor vehicle crash injuries. Thus, they are more likely to die from their injuries.(37a)
Fewer persons aged 70 years and older are licensed to drive, compared to younger persons, and they drive fewer miles per licensed driver. Persons in this older age group, however, have higher rates of fatal crashes per mile driven, per 100,000 persons, and per licensed driver than any other group except young drivers (aged 16 to 24 years).
Pedestrians account for about 13 percent of motor vehicle deaths. The problem of pedestrian deaths and injuries is worse among young children and older adults. Children are more likely to be injured, while older adults are more likely to die in pedestrian crashes.(36)
As of December 1997, 49 States had safety belt laws. Eleven States had primary enforcement laws, and the remaining 38 States had secondary enforcement laws.(38) In 1998, the average observed belt use rate by States with secondary enforcement laws was 62 percent, compared to 79 percent in States with primary enforcement laws.(38)
Among children aged 1 to 14 years, crash injuries are the leading cause of death. In 1998, 2,549 children aged 14 years and under died in motor vehicle crashes.(35) The use of age-appropriate restraint systems can reduce this problem. Because all States have child restraint laws, more children now ride restrained. But loopholes in the laws exempt many children from coverage under either safety belt or child restraint use laws. Another problem is the persistence of incorrectly used child restraints and safety belts.(39)
Motorcycles are less stable and less visible than cars, and they have high-performance capabilities. When motorcycles crash, their riders lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle, so they are more likely to be injured or killed. The number of deaths on motorcycles per mile traveled is about 16 times the number of deaths in cars. Wearing a motorcycle helmet reduces the chances of dying in a motorcycle crash by 29 percent and reduces the chances of brain injury by 67 percent. An unhelmeted rider is 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury, compared with a helmeted rider. In 1998, 2,284 motorcyclists died in crashes.(40)
Teenagers accounted for 10 percent of the U.S. population in 1997 and 15 percent of the motor vehicle deaths. In 1998, 3,427 drivers aged 15 to 20 years were killed, and an additional 348,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes.(41) Graduated licensing laws allow a young driver to gain driving experience at incremental levels. Graduated licensing is a system for phasing in on-road driving that allows beginners to obtain their initial experience under lower risk conditions.
The National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances (NCUTLO) has developed a model law that calls for a minimum of 6 months in the learner stage and a minimum of 6 months in the intermediate license stage with night driving restrictions. Twenty-three States have all the core provisions of the model graduated licensing model law developed by NCUTLO. The NCUTLO model also requires applicants for intermediate and full licenses to have no safety belt or zero tolerance violations and to be conviction-free during the mandatory holding periods.
Last modified: 22-Aug-2001.