Talking To Teens About Unintentional Injuries
What’s It All About?
Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death among adolescents 11 to 19 years old in Washington. These kinds of injuries are caused by behaviors such as not wearing a seatbelt, riding a bike or motorcycle without a helmet, drinking and driving, riding with a drunk driver, not wearing a life jacket, and participating in athletic activity without protective gear. Most unintentional injuries are not accidents because they can be prevented.
Why Does It Matter?
- Injuries kill more adolescents than all diseases combined.
- Nationally, nearly 60% of all deaths among adolescents 10 to 19 years old were due to unintentional injuries.
- About 80% of all unintentional injury deaths of Washington adolescents are thought to be preventable.
- Since 1995, an average of 125 teens 15 to 19 years old in Washington have died each year from unintentional injuries.
- In Washington, 15- to 19-year-old boys are about 2 times more likely to die from an unintentional injury than girls in the same age group, but the number of female deaths due to unintentional injury nearly doubled from 1999 to 2001.
- Teens with physical and psychological or developmental disabilities have higher rates of injury.
What Are The Details?
Motor Vehicle Crashes
- In Washington, 40% of deaths among 15- to 19-year-olds are due to motor\ vehicle crashes.
- Alcohol is involved in more than a third of adolescent driver fatalities. In the past month in Washington, about 1-in-5 8th graders and 1-in-4 10th and 12th graders report riding in a car when the driver had been drinking. Girls are more likely than boys to report frequently riding in a car driven by someone who had been drinking.
- The risk for motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16- to 19-year-olds than among any other age group. Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are 4 times more likely to crash than older drivers.
- Adolescents in the U.S. are especially at risk for fatal crashes at night.
- Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for 15- to 19-year-olds in Washington state. From 1997 to 2001, there were about 70 unintentional drownings among Washington youth in this age group.
- The majority of drownings among Washington teens and young adults occurred in lakes and rivers.
- Nationwide, alcohol is involved in about 40% of all adolescent drownings.
Reprinted with the permission of the Department of Social and Health Services.
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