Center for Injury Research and Prevention

Teen Driving Safety Research at CIRP

teen driving safety research
Teen driving safety research in action: CIRP's Epidemiology team, led by Allison E. Curry, PhD (right) 

Motor vehicle crashes remain the No. 1 cause of death for adolescents. For over a decade, CIRP has been conducting teen driving safety research to develop interventions to prevent crashes in this vulnerable population of drivers. Our research corresponds to at least one of the following categories:

  1. skill acquisition and training
  2. compliance with and enforcement of Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) provisions
  3. Improving driving behaviors

Crashes involving teen drivers are caused by multiple factors and require comprehensive solutions. Working to develop these solutions through teen driving safety research is equally complex, involving many different disciplines and methods. Our Teen Driving Safety Research team employs comprehensive, rigorous methods to both analyze factors associated with teen crashes and to develop interventions to change behaviors that contribute to these crashes. We believe that by understanding predictors of teen driver crashes, we can help prevent them.

Areas of Teen Driving Safety Research:

Graduated Driver Licensing

Virtual Driving Skills Assessment

Developmental Disabilities & Driving

Distracted Driving

Improve Driving Behaviors

Neuroscience of Driving

Foundational and Completed Teen Driving Safety Research Projects

Current and Completed Teen Driving Safety Research Projects:

Graduated Driver Licensing

Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs--which include restrictions on passengers and nighttime driving during the first year of licensure--are a cornerstone of public policy aimed at reducing the burden of crashes on adolescent health. Further reductions in teen crash rates will rely on strengthening specific provisions of GDL, as well as greater compliance with and enforcement of GDL provisions. Thus, the Teen Driver Safety Research team at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute has focused efforts to inform how best to improve GDL policy. Here is an overview of research projects currently underway:

Virtual Driving Skills Assessment

Studies of newly-licensed teen drivers indicate that they exit the learner permit period with significant difficulty executing a variety of driving behaviors, leading to a three to four times increased risk of crashing the first year after getting licensed. CIRP researchers have developed and tested novel approaches to help teen drivers receive the necessary training to acquire skills and experience to drive safely. Research currently underway uses a validated Virtual Driving Assessment to dermine preparedness for safe driving prior to licensure and to provide feedback on critical skill deficits. Read more about this teen driving safety research

Developmental Disabilities & Driving

CHOP's Teen Driving Safety Research team is currently conducting rigorous research on adolescents with developmental disabilities, including Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,  who want to drive or are currently driving, to examine their rates of licensure and risk of crashing to help establish the epidemiologic foundation for future translational research. Read more about this teen driving safety research.

Distracted Driving

Investigators at CIRP and the University of Pennsylvania are working together to develop behavior change interventions that include strategies to encourage focused attention on driving to address distracted driving, a key contributor to teen driver crashes. Read more about this teen driving safety research.

Improve Driving Behaviors

Through the analysis of naturalistic and simulated driving data, our Teen Driving Safety Research team is working to reduce the frequency and severity of crashes involving teen drivers. They are conducting a number of studies to assess the driving skills of newly licensed teens, how various driving scenarios affect teen driving behaviors and emotions, and how interventions affect teen driving behaviors and skill levels. Read more about this teen driving safety research.

Neuroscience of Driving

To bridge basic neuroscience with applied driving research at the clinical and broader population level, the Teen Driving Safety Research team at CIRP recently established the Neuroscience of Driving Research Program in partnership with CHOP's neuroradiology Magnetoencephalography (MEG) Imaging Center. Read more about this teen driving safety research.

Foundational and Completed Teen Driving Safety Research Projects

CIRP researchers have completed several teen driving safety research projects that have improved the science. Read about this foundational and completed work

Learn more about our teen driving safety research and resources in the Research In Action blog