Evaluating Feedback and Alerting Technologies for Teen Drivers

Sixty newly licensed teen drivers will be enrolled in this study from two different sites: thirty from the suburban Washington, DC, area, and thirty from rural Iowa. The two very different sites will allow us to sample a diverse array of driving environments that pose different challenges to newly licensed drivers. In rural areas, young drivers face an increased risk of single vehicle crashes (Chen et al., 2009; Peek-Asa, Britton, Young, Pawlovich, & Falb, 2010), with roadway curves and speeding being significant contributing factors (Chen et al., 2009). In contrast, young drivers in urban areas are more likely to be involved in multi-vehicle crashes, especially rear-end and broadside (Peek-Asa et al., 2010), and to have higher crash rates overall (Chen et al., 2009). 

When a participant is enrolled in the study, Best Buy will install a DriveCam event data recorder in his or her vehicle within a month of licensure. All participant vehicles will be equipped with identical equipment for 20 weeks of data collection. When the vehicle experiences a lateral or longitudinal acceleration in excess of a pre-determined threshold , a 12-second video clip is recorded. All feedback to participants will be based on these triggered events. In addition, video will also be recorded when the status of the ignition switch goes from on to off (i.e., end of trip) for the purpose of driver identification. The driver ID video will also capture driver and passenger safety belt usage.

The objective is to evaluate the following research questions using two cohorts of newly licensed drivers:

  1. To what extent do two technology-based interventions, one including video feedback and one non-video feedback, reduce unsafe driving behaviors of newly licensed teen drivers relative to a control group, as well as to a baseline period?
  2. To what extent does including video with the intervention produce a significantly different effect than the same intervention without the video?

  3. What are teens’ and parents’ attitudes and impressions about the interventions in terms of acceptability, usefulness, and benefits to driving safety?