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Traffic law knowledge disparity between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites in California.

  • Author(s): Anderson, Kenton L
  • Patel, Chirag V
  • Vaca, Federico
  • Anderson, Craig L
  • Mendoza, Rosemarie
  • Barton, Renee L
  • Lekawa, Michael E
  • Hoonpongsimanont, Wirachin
  • Lotfipour, Shahram
  • et al.


The Hispanic population is one group that is involved in a disproportionately high percentage of fatal motor vehicle collisions in the United States.

Study objectives

This study investigated demographic factors contributing to a lack of knowledge and awareness of traffic laws among Hispanic drivers involved in motor vehicle collisions (MVCs) in southern California.


The cross-sectional study enrolled adults (n = 190) involved in MVCs presenting to a Level I trauma center in southern California over a 7-month period. Subjects completed a survey about California traffic law knowledge (TLK) consisting of eight multiple-choice questions. The mean number of questions answered correctly was compared between groups defined by demographic data.


The mean number of TLK questions answered correctly by Hispanic and non-Hispanic white groups were significantly different at 4.13 and 4.62, respectively (p = 0.005; 95% confidence interval -0.83 to -0.15). Scores were significantly lower in subjects who were not fluent in English, had less than a high school education, did not possess a current driver's license, and received their TLK from sources other than a driver's education class or Department of Motor Vehicle materials. Analysis of variance showed that the source of knowledge was the strongest predictor of accurate TLK.


Source of TLK is a major contributing factor to poor TLK in Hispanics. An emphasis on culturally specific traffic law education is needed.

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