Teen Driving Safety Research
Motor vehicle crashes remain the No. 1 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:
- Teen drivers’ skill acquisition and training
- Compliance with and enforcement of Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) provisions
- 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.
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.
Driver’s 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.
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.
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.
Improve Teen Driver Behaviors
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.
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.
Virtual Driving Skills Assessment
In partnership with CHOP spin-out company Diagnostic Driving Inc., CIRP researchers have built and validated a virtual driving skills assessment — Ready-Assess™ — to screen driver’s license applicants before they take their on-road examination (ORE).
Completed and Foundational Projects
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.