Background: To explore the impact of road injuries for different age groups, this study compares the health burden of road injuries on young adolescents—12 to 17 years of age—to those on older age groups. Young adolescents are underrepresented in road fatalities. However, their inexperience, developmental stage and use of bicycles may expose them to high levels of road risk, but their physical resilience may help them survive injuries which in older age groups would be fatal.
Methods: To assess the impact of injuries compared with death, this study assessed by age group the health burden expressed in disability adjusted life years; years of life lost plus years lived with disability. Its analyses make use of existing data bases on road fatalities, serious injuries (maximum abbreviated injury score 2 or more), travel, life expectancy and disability weights.
Results: For young adolescents, serious injuries per distance travelled (injury risk) were higher than for any other age group, except for the elderly (75+). This was further amplified when health burden was taken into account, showing these young adolescents to be responsible for 15% of the total health burden associated with road crashes.
Conclusions: These results justify extra efforts to improve the understanding and prevention of injury-only crashes among young adolescents.