Media attention, research dollars, and awareness campaigns often target distracted driving and drunk driving as serious impairments that can impact drivers of any age. Another type of driving impairment that receives less attention, but whose prevalence and consequences are also significant, has suddenly been thrust into the national spotlight through a recent crash involving actor Tracy Morgan. That impairment is drowsy driving.
#Selfies, when people take photos of themselves and share them via social media, have been widely used to promote a positive self-image, make others laugh, and brag a little when on vacation or somewhere wonderful with a “Guess Where I Am?” teaser. This is all in good fun. But when this trend is promoted as a cool behavior behind the wheel, fatal crashes can occur. In this post, we take stock of the trend's prevalence to help the teen driver safety community nip it in the bud.
While working with other auto safety researchers over the past year as part of a distracted driving panel organized by the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM) and State Farm®, I have been introduced to the term “engaged driving” and prefer it to the term “distracted driving.” I think it better describes what we want drivers to do to be safe.
One of the key risk factors for teen driver crashes is the presence of peer passengers. One passenger doubles the risk of a crash, and two or more passengers lead to a five times greater risk of crash. As part of the CIRP@CHOP Teen Driver Safety Research Team and the principal investigator of simulator-based research and director of the simulator program, I have been exploring the detrimental impact of peer passengers on teen drivers with my research colleague, Noelle LaVoie, PhD at Parallel Consulting, with the goal of developing an engaging intervention that helps teens to reduce passenger-related distractions. We are in the process of developing a multi-player game as an intervention to address this issue.
There is convincing evidence that individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at heightened risk for unsafe driving behaviors, including teens. Despite a “perfect storm” of inexperience, adolescence and ADHD that increases crash risk, only emerging research about potential interventions exists for these teens. This can be frustrating for both parents and clinicians, like myself, who frequently discuss the risk of driving with teens with ADHD but have little information to offer about specific ways to keep them safe. In an editorial published today in JAMA Pediatrics, my CIRP@CHOP colleagues Flaura Winston and Catherine McDonald address this need head-on.
While motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for teens, we have made great strides in reducing the number of crashes involving teens behind the wheel. According to a new report released today by CIRP@CHOP and State Farm®, the number of teen driver-related fatalities declined 47 percent in the past six years from a total of 5,889 in 2005 to a total of 3,150 in 2011.