The National Adolescent Health Information Center (NAHIC) has just released a new fact sheet on Unintentional Injury in Adolescents and Young Adults, which is the leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults. In 2004 the leading causes of death in people ages 10 - 24 included:
motor vehicle accidents (31.3%);
and all other unintentional injuries (e.g., poisoning, drowning, fires/burns, and falls) (14.1%);
with the remaining 28.1% being other causes.
Lack of driving experience, alcohol use (three out of ten) and lack of seat belt use contribute to motor vehicle accidental death rates, which are highest among American Indian/Alaskan native youth. A previous post on Teen Health 411 discusses Teen Driving.
The good news is that the unintentional injury death rate for this age group has gone down during the last 20 years, although males and young adults still have higher unintentional injury and death rates than females, and adult males 18-24 years old have the highest rates. I know we want to believe that our teens are not stupid enough to drive after drinking, get in a car with someone who has been drinking, or not use seat belts, but the statistics suggest that teens are doing all of those things. I cannot encourage you strongly enough to talk to your kids about alcohol and driving and have a safety plan that includes a ride home with no questions asked, and no consequences.