Covariability in three dimensions of teenage driving risk behavior: impaired driving, risky and unsafe driving behavior, and secondary task engagement

Bruce Simons-Morton, Kaigang Li, Johnathon Ehsani, Federico E. Vaca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objective: This research examined the extent to which teenagers who engaged in one form of risky driving also engaged in other forms and whether risky driving measures were reciprocally associated over time. Methods: The data were from waves 1, 2, and 3 (W1, W2, and W3) of the NEXT Generation study, with longitudinal assessment of a nationally representative sample starting with 10th graders starting in 2009–2010. Three measures of risky driving were assessed in autoregressive and cross-lagged analyses: driving while alcohol/drug impaired (DWI), Checkpoints Risky Driving Scale (risky and unsafe driving), and secondary task engagement while driving. Results: In adjusted autoregression models, the risk variables demonstrated high levels of stability, with significant associations observed across the 3 waves. However, associations between variables were inconsistent. DWI at W2 was associated with risky and unsafe driving at W3 (β = 0.21, P <.01); risky and unsafe driving at W1 was associated with DWI at W2 (β = 0.20, P <.01); and risky and unsafe driving at W2 is associated with secondary task engagement at W3 (β = 0.19, P <.01). Over time, associations between DWI and secondary task engagement were not significant. Conclusions: Our findings provide modest evidence for the covariability of risky driving, with prospective associations between the Risky Driving Scale and the other measures and reciprocal associations between all 3 variables at some time points. Secondary task engagement, however, appears largely to be an independent measure of risky driving. The findings suggest the importance of implementing interventions that addresses each of these driving risks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-446
Number of pages6
JournalTraffic Injury Prevention
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 3 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • alcohol
  • distraction
  • driving while alcohol/drug impaired
  • risk taking
  • teenagers
  • young drivers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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