Socioeconomic status during youth and risk of car crash during adulthood. Findings from the DRIVE cohort study

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Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health


Background: Young drivers of low socioeconomic status (SES) have a disproportionally high risk of crashing compared with their more affluent counterparts. Little is known if this risk persists into adulthood and if it differs between men and women. Methods: We used data from a 2003/2004 Australian survey of young drivers (n=20 806), which included measures of drivers' demographics and established crash risk factors. These data were linked to police-reported crash, hospital and death data up to 2016. We used negative binomial regression models to estimate the association between participants' SES, with car crash. Results: After adjusting for confounding, drivers of lowest SES had 1.30 (95% CI 1.20 to 1.42), 1.90 (95% CI 1.25 to 2.88), 3.09 (95% CI 2.41 to 3.95) and 2.28 (95% CI 1.85 to 2.82) times higher rate of crash, crash-related hospitalisation, crash in country areas and crash on streets with a speed limit of 80 km/hour or above compared with drivers of highest SES, respectively. For single-vehicle crashes, women in the lowest SES groups had 2.88 (95% CI 1.83 to 4.54) times higher rate of crash compared with those in the highest SES group, but no differences were observed for men from different SES groups. Conclusion: Young drivers who lived in areas of low SES at the time of the survey had a sustained increased risk of crash over the following 13 years compared with drivers from the most affluent areas. Our findings suggest that in addition to traditional measures, road transport injury prevention needs to consider the wider social determinants of health.

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