As a developmental psychologist, I am thrilled that this year’s theme for National Teen Driver Safety Week (October 20-26) is It Takes Two: Shared Expectations for Teens and Parents for Driving. This theme emphasizes that research and practice efforts should consider the family unit as opposed to focusing on parents and teens in isolation.
After six hours of behind-the-wheel driver’s ed training and a full year of parent-supervised driving instruction, my daughter, Amanda, earned her probationary license in late August--just in time for school and her senior year. Like many parents, my husband and I tried our best to be supportive throughout her driving journey, but sometimes it wasn’t easy. Too many times we would press down on the imaginary brake when she almost hit a parked car or sped up for no apparent reason in a residential neighborhood and say, “C’mon, pay attention to your driving!” What we didn’t know is that her perceived inattention wasn’t from daydreaming or looking at boys, it was from a lack of knowledge. For Amanda to get it right, we needed to actually teach her how to moderate her speed for various conditions and then practice this skill over and over.
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.
In a recent post, I described the health policy community’s keen interest in CIRP@CHOP’s research on New Jersey’s GDL “decal” requirement. Later that month the Public Health Law Webinar Series hosted a panel of research and program experts to discuss the NJ GDL Decal requirement.
A recent study demonstrated the early positive effect of New Jersey’s novice driver decals at reducing teen crash rates. Other states are also contemplating requiring novice drivers to display decals (also known as identifiers) on the outside of their vehicle when they are the driver. This got me thinking about what novice driver identifiers look like in other parts of the world.
This week, we were excited to learn that our article “Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Decal Law: Effect on Young Probationary Drivers” has been selected Robert Wood Johnson Research Foundation's No. 1 Most Influential Research Article of 2012 . How did a study on a single provision of one state’s GDL program grab the attention of health care policy stakeholders? I asked Allison Curry, PhD, MPH, lead author and director of epidemiology at CIRP@CHOP, about why she thought the study resonated so strongly with the broader public health community. She gave much credit to the state of New Jersey. Participate in a free Webinar on the topic on March 21, 2013, sponsored by the Network for Public Health Law.