Teen Driving Safety Research

Motor vehicle crashes remain a leading cause of death for adolescents. Through its multidisciplinary Teen Driving Safety Research program, the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute is working to reduce the frequency and severity of motor vehicle crashes involving teens behind the wheel. Most of our teen driving safety research corresponds to at least one of the following categories:

  1. Teen drivers’ skill acquisition and training, including virtual driving assessment
  2. Compliance with and enforcement of Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) provisions 
  3. Improving teen driving behaviors 

Crashes involving teen drivers are caused by multiple factors and require comprehensive solutions. Working to develop these solutions through teen driver 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.

Distracted Driving

driving research

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.

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Driver’s License and Crash Patterns

driver license and crash patterns

CIRP researchers have found that age and experience matter when it comes to young driver crash rates and support extending age requirements for the intermediate phase of GDL to 21 years.

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Neurodevelopmental Differences and Driving


CHOP’s Teen Driving Safety Research team is currently conducting rigorous research on adolescents with neurodevelopmental differences, 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.

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GDL Compliance and Enforcement


Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs 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 GDL programs and promoting greater compliance with GDL.

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Improve Teen Driver 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.

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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.

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New Jersey GDL Decals and Vehicle Identifiers


In 2010 New Jersey implemented a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) provision requiring young novice drivers to display a decal on their vehicle indicating their license status (Kyleigh’s Law, P.L. 2009, c. 037 - S2314). The provision was enacted with the goal of facilitating police enforcement of GDL restrictions, and ultimately, decreasing teen driver crash rates.

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Virtual Driving Assessment

driving skills

In partnership with CHOP spin-out company Diagnostic Driving, Inc., CIRP researchers have built and validated the virtual driving assessment that measures a person's ability to drive safely and avoid crashes.

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Completed and Foundational Projects

foundation research

For more than a decade, our Teen Driving Safety team has conducted research to help prevent teen crashes. This work has furthered the science and influenced policy to keep teen drivers safe.

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