Teen Driver Safety

Several teen driver safety research studies
currently underway involve the Center's
state-of-the-art driving simulator.

Motor vehicle crashes remain the No. 1 cause of death for teens.Through its multidisciplinary Teen Driver Safety Research program, the Center for Injury Research and Prevention is working to reduce the frequency and severity of teen driver crashes, injuries, and fatalities.

Much of our Teen Driver Safety research corresponds to at least one of the following three broad categories:

The Teen Driver Safety Research team uses several methodological approaches in its work to help reduce the frequency and severity of crashes involving teens behind the wheel. These include:

  • evidence-based intervention design and evaluation
  • driving simulation
  • analysis of existing data sources
  • on-road driving assessment

In 2010, the Teen Driver Safety team launched teendriversource.org, CIRP’s award-winning website that provides parents, teens, educators, and policymakers with the latest information and tools to help prevent teen driver crashes. The site is frequently updated as new research is published, interventions are evaluated, and new recommendations for families and stakeholders about teen driver safety become available.

Key Teen Driver Safety Research Projects

Young Driver Research Initiative (YDRI)
This unique academic-industry alliance between The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company addresses not only concerns about driving, but also the parent-teen relationship, peer relationships among teens, and issues around adolescent, cognitive, and emotional development. Several YDRI peer-reviewed papers have been published about how these factors contribute to teens’ driving behaviors. Current research in this area is focusing on understanding how to optimize the learning-to-drive experience of young drivers.

Realistic Simulation in a Driving Simulator
Although a moderate level of stress is common in everyday driving, excess stress can undermine the physical and psychological ability of drivers to safely control vehicles. To better understand how stressors affect novice teen drivers, we are using our high-fidelity driving simulator to create and validate a paradigm for reliably inducing stress and then measure is effect on driving performance in a safe and controlled environment.

Graduated Driver Licensing Decal Law Effect on Young Probationary Drivers
Although Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws have significantly reduced the burden of teen motor vehicle crashes, their potential to have an even greater impact on public health hinges on efforts to enhance teen compliance with and police enforcement of GDL restrictions (passenger limit, curfew, seat belt use, cell phone restriction). Several studies are evaluating New Jersey’s first-in-the-nation provision that requires novice teen drivers to display a decal on their vehicle’s license plate to make themselves easily identifiable to police to see if the decal  increases teen drivers’ compliance with and officers’ enforcement of GDL restrictions. This line of research will provide much-needed scientific evidence as to the effectiveness of decal laws in reducing crashes.

Click here for a full description of current Teen Driver Safety research projects, past projects, and how we approach Teen Driver Safety research.