BACKGROUND: Traffic accidents are one of the most frequent cause of mortality among Brazilian youths. Therefore, this study aimed at detecting the prevalence of risk factors for such accidents in a young population. METHODS: Questionnaires containing questions about risky behavior for traffic accidents were answered by students from the first to the fourth year of the Medical course of the Sate University of Londrina, Paraná State, Brazil, during October and November, 2000. The chi-square test was used to detect differences between the sexes, with a 5% significance level. RESULTS: Compared to women, male students reported a statistically significant higher frequency of transportation as a car driver, owing a driver license, to have learnt to drive a car under the age of 16 and to have drunk alcoholic beverages before driving a vehicle during the last 30 days. Among regular drivers, a lower proportion of desirable behavior was also noted among male students. Lack of attention (59.3%), disregarding traffic signals (33.5%) and speeding (22.5%) were the main factors cited as determinants for the occurrence of the last accident, with no gender difference. CONCLUSIONS: These results point out for the need to implement measures in order to reduce factors that favors the occurrence of traffic accidents among these youths, especially among males.
Traffic Accidents; Risk Factors; Youth