Reducing road related injuries for young adolescents - an investigation of truancy as a risk factor
Truancy is recognised as an indicator of engagement in high-risk behaviours for adolescents. Injuries from road related risk behaviours continue to be a leading cause of death and disability for early adolescents (13-14 years). The aim of this research is to determine the extent to which truancy relates to increased risk of road related injuries for early adolescents. Four hundred and twenty-seven Year 9 students (13-14 years) from five high schools in Queensland, Australia, completed a questionnaire about their perceptions of risk and recent injury experience. Self-reported injuries were assessed by the Extended Adolescent Injury Checklist (E-AIC). Injuries resulting from motorcycle use, bicycle use, vehicle use (as passenger or driver), and as a pedestrian were measured for the preceding three months. Students were also asked to indicate whether they sought medical attention for their injuries. Truancy rates were assessed from self-reported skipping class or wagging school over the same three month period. The findings explore the relationship between early adolescent truancy and road related injuries. The relationship between road related injuries and truancy was analysed separately for males and females. Results of this study revealed that road related injuries and reports of associated medical treatment are higher for young people who engage in truancy when compared with non-truant adolescents. The results of this study contribute knowledge about truancy as a risk factor for engagement in road related risks. The findings have the potential to enhance school policies and injury prevention programs if emphasis is placed on increasing school attendance as a safety measure to decrease road related injuries for young adolescents.