Us Teen Motor Vehicle Accidents Ecological Injury Perspective

In the US teenage driving particularly for males hold higher proportions of vehicle crashes along with engaging in risky driving tendencies. Motor vehicle deaths unevenly affects youths from minority and poor societies. In a majority of societies, there exist higher proportions of dangerous behaviors amongst minority youths. The ecological theory will be used to understand the ways teens make their driving behavior choices and identify factors that would influence these choices. Despite the incredible steps attained towards enhancing general health status by advancing behavioral along with biomedical research, the youth aged 16-20 are increasingly dying through motor vehicle crashes. Young drivers whose age ranges from 16 to 20 have a higher risk of involvement in a vehicle crash as compared to middle aged drivers. Additionally disparities exist in death disability along with injury persist for African American also Latino teens as compared to white youths. This document using the ecological theory perspective will locate areas that have known disparities prevail, also evaluate strategies for transforming teen driving behavior, locating what has helped in enhancing the usage of safety belts and for decreasing dangerous behaviors.

Safety belt usage

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The main reason why teens are killed or gravely injured once involved in accidents is lack of safety belt usage (McCartt & Northrup, 2004). In 2011, the Fatality Analysis Reporting System or FARS indicated that over two-thirds of the teens killed in crashes failed to wear safety belts. The African-American teens and Latinos reported high cases of failing to use the safety belt or being injured or killed countrywide as compared to teenage white. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA indicates that young people aged 16 to 24 are seen using safety belts by between 5-15% which is a significantly low proportion  (NHTSA, 2011).

Understanding dangerous driving behavior

Teen driving behavior is affected by numerous factors such as personal knowledge levels, skills, motor vehicle condition and the community setting.  Individual aspects, which contribute to motor vehicle mortality and morbidity amongst teens, comprise of age, gender race, acculturation levels and driving experience. Inexperience along with immaturity   contributes highly to crash rates among teens (Juarez, Schlundt, & Goldzweig, 2006). Adolescents normally engage in lots of dangerous behaviors such as speeding, which has been seen to considerably correlating with heightened risk of crashes. Teens are more likely to get involved in tendencies such as following each other closely and hasty lane changes. NHTSA in 2012 indicated that 17% of drivers aged 16-20 years involved in accidents possessed a high blood alcohol concentration of above 0.08% measuring as drunken driving (NHTSA, 2012). Nevertheless, absence of driving skills would be less significant as compared to poor judgment that grows slowly and with widespread driving experience along with brain maturation. There exists a rising understanding that teenagers who engage in dangerous driving behavior usually participate in numerous other kinds of risky conducts, known as clustering of risky behavior. Further evidence indicates that teenage risky conduct share universal underlying causes for instance, biological, behavioral, family and neighborhood factors (Allegrante et al., 2010). Therefore, in addition to examining teenagers’ participation in particular risky driving behaviors, it is essential to emphasize on risk taking amongst teens and scrutinize for any signs of risky conduct.  

The ecological injury perspective approach

Understanding ways in which youth make decisions concerning driving, risk-taking behaviors along with the variables, which influence those behaviors, requires a vibrant theoretical framework. The aspects that manipulate driving behaviors along with the features that affect both environmental and motor vehicle, also subsequent results are integrated within the ecological theory framework (Allegrante et al., 2010). According to the ecological theory, teen behavior dynamically interacts with and responds to many evolving environmental influence spheres. The ecological theory permits the consideration and incorporation of present and historical economic, political cultural and social aspects as probable sources of teen behavior influence.

   According to this model, similar complex systems, which create behaviors context additionally, mediate and moderate the outcomes of these behaviors. Particular outcomes are immediate whilst others are long-term (Schlundt, Warren, & Miller, 2004). Adverse consequences of driving behaviors normally are described as individual injury death and disability. Further, the consequence of teen driving behavior possesses detrimental effects towards other individuals such as peers, family members, the community and neighbors. Particular choices extend long term physical, personal, emotional along with financial consequences (for instance, critical injuries, drunk driving convictions, rise in insurance rates) whilst others possess effects on economic systems, social and political environment. The teen driving behavior ecological theory model in actuality is an iterative process within which new events persistently merge with precursors to persuade the choices of the individual (Juarez, Schlundt, & Goldzweig, 2006). The choices made at present impact on the succeeding behavioral decisions, forming new situations that persuade and restrain future choices. Nevertheless, it is at present that that a person possesses an opportunity to create choices regarding driving behaviors, which reduce the crash risk.

This model should be offered as a guide to consider various strategies, which could be adopted within the society to transform the US teenagers driving behaviors. The theory asserts that multilevel interventions have the biggest chance for decreasing dangerous teen driving tendencies along with their adverse outcomes instead of interventions that aim at a single level risk issues  (Schlundt, Warren, & Miller, 2004). Interventions development and adoption should engage the community in order to become more effective as compared to interventions developed by experts or the state. Whilst participatory approaches are significant towards all communities, teens must be engaged to a larger extent since these issues affect them majorly. Messages require to be delivered appropriately and in a linguistically suitable manner, at a particular place and time. Additionally, the messenger should be an individual who the teenagers can easily identify; also the message ought to address the exclusive social realities youths experience. The message must also be provided via a medium through which the teens are receptive (Juarez, Schlundt, & Goldzweig, 2006).

Safe driving campaigns should consider the usage of or engaging media channels such as radio stations, television along with other modern media channels in order to contact the broadest teenage audience. Additionally, since most of the youths majorly appreciate musical messages, this channel should be utilized to educate them (Schlundt, Warren, & Miller, 2004). Advertising on the trendy social media sites and text messaging are additional channels of passing the message. In the rural areas strategies such as billboards, and flyers could work very well in educating teens regarding the dangers of risky driving.  The messengers in the rural areas may include the influential people such as the faith and community leaders whilst in the urban areas the mainly effectual messengers can be entertainers, celebrities along with sports figures (Juarez, Schlundt, & Goldzweig, 2006). 

Inner city regions and high poverty areas where teens are prone to lacking social along with economic resources, which offer teens opportunities for healthy development: interventions geared towards behavioral transformation among the youths should be exclusive to the prevailing social, political, physical and economic setting (Schlundt, Warren, & Miller, 2004). In low income settings strategies ought to coordinate or be incorporated into the present public health interventions in order to take advantage of the already present social capital. For instance, lots of community organizations currently are working with teens regarding issues for example HIV/AIDS prevention, drug usage deterrence, violence avoidance, conflict resolution, along with sexual education: thus the behavioral change on risky teen driving could assume the established platforms (Juarez, Schlundt, & Goldzweig, 2006). Therefore, where efficient programs prevail, messengers should collaborate with thee organizations to pass information concerning seat belt usage along with other risk elements concerning motor vehicle crashes.


Despite the continued decrease in the unfavorable impacts of teen motor vehicle crashes in the US, disparities in, disability, death and injury persist especially amongst Latino and African American teenagers compared to white youths. Whilst it is significant to continue endeavors to transform teen driving behaviors via educational health, media and the community the injuries continue to persist. Thus the ecological theory should be used towards behavioral changes since it provides a mainly comprehensive and dynamic advance for reaching all teens. For effectual seat belt usage ways in which the physical, social, economic and political setting that has shaped the teenagers in question should be considered. The ecological theory model advances efforts that adopt multifaceted prevention strategies that contain linguistically and culturally suitable messages, also involving the target population in the creation and adoption of the proposed strategies making it a mainly efficient method. The compound and multilevel interventions extend a great promise to not simply decrease teen motor vehicle injury, death and disability amongst all teens but also reduce disparities on the outcomes.  


Allegrante, J. et al. (2010). Ecological approaches to the prevention of unintentional injuries. Italian Journal Of Public Health, 7.

Juarez, P., Schlundt, D. G., & Goldzweig, I. (2006). driving behaviors among minority youth A conceptual framework for reducing risky teen.

McCartt, A. T., & Northrup, V. S. (2004). Factors related to seat belt use among fatally injured teenage drivers. Journal of Safety Research. doi:10.1016/j.jsr.2003.09.016

NHTSA. (2011). Traffic safety facts 2011. Retrieved from

NHTSA. (2012). Traffic safety facts. Retrieved from

Schlundt, D. G., Warren, R. C., & Miller, S. (2004). Reducing unintentional injuries on the nation’s highways: A Literature Review. Journal of Health Care for The Poor and Underserved. doi:10.1353/hpu.2004.0012

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