LOS ANGELES, CA -- A new study in the Academic Emergency Medicine journal shows that women may be catching up to men in risky behavior when they're behind the wheel, according to the Web site, < a="" href="http://www.knbc.com/" />www.knbc.com.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for adolescents, and alcohol use is a predictor for fatal crash occurrence, according to the study.

Over the course of the 10-year study period, researchers investigated 139,000 fatal crashes in all age groups.

Young females had 13 percent overall lower proportion of alcohol involvement in fatal crashes, the research showed. However, when accounting for change over a 10-year period, young female drivers showed a similar increase in alcohol-related fatal crashes as that seen in young males.

This increase was especially apparent in the older, legal drinking age group of 21-24 years. In restraint use data, males showed overall less seatbelt use by 17.9 percent, but a greater increase in use over the study period than females.

Drivers with alcohol in their blood had a 31 percent lower restraint use than drivers without, according to the study.

When combined with other factors -- cell phone use and distractions from teenagers among them -- the trends for young women were not found to be positive.

"Young females should not be overlooked or underestimated in risky driving habits and involvement in alcohol-related crashes," said Virginia Tsai, a physician in the department of emergency medicine at the University of California, Irvine Medical Center and the lead researcher of the study. "[Emergency Department] staff should consider the teachable moment when they come across the young person involved in a crash no matter if they are male or female. They are both at considerable risk for serious and fatal crashes, especially if there is alcohol involved."

"While they may be in the [Emergency Department] for a minor crash, the time and conversation the staff may have with them may save their lives," Tsai said.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials