Transportation & Vehicle Safety Policy
 

Study

Urban Teen Driving Study

Motor vehicle crashes account for 40% of all teen fatalities. Graduated driver licensing (GDL) is showing promise as a potential solution by extending the learning phase. There are also several different technologies that can support parental management of teen driving past the supervised learning phase and into the most dangerous time for newly licensed teens—the first 6 months of independent driving. The implementation of such devices may help to reduce the number and type of risky driving behaviors and to increase safe behaviors like seat belt use.

This study addresses the potential for an event-triggered video system to reduce the number of safety-relevant driving errors made by newly licensed teen drivers. The system provides both immediate feedback and a 20-second video clip, giving the teen driver and their parent the opportunity to review and learn from mistakes as well as good responses. The event-triggered video system was placed in the vehicles of 18 newly licensed sixteen year old drivers for 52 weeks. The first six weeks established a within-subject baseline; no parental or system feedback was given during this time. During the next 40 weeks, feedback was provided to the teen driver in the form of a blinking LED on the camera and a weekly report card mailed to the parents. The report showed the driver’s weekly and cumulative performance regarding unsafe behaviors and seatbelt use relative to the other participants. The last six weeks was a second baseline period. Results showed that the intervention was successful in reducing the number of safety-relevant events by 61%, and by 75% among those teens who triggered the system most frequently during the initial baseline period. More importantly, the effect remained even after the intervention ended. In addition, seatbelt use increased to an average of 98% across all participants. Although there are limitations associated with such a naturalistic study, the results suggest that an intervention of this type can reduce the number of risky behaviors novice teen drivers engage in.