Teen Driver Safety

Student Driving Simulator - CIRP
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
  • analysis of naturalistic and simulated driving data
  • linkage and analysis of existing data sources

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

Distracted Driving Research
CHOP researchers are working with investigators at the University of Pennsylvania to develop behavior change interventions that include strategies to encourage focused attention on driving. The studies test the effects of a web-based educational intervention, as well as different ways to implement technological solutions such as automated blocking of cell phone use and silencing of notifications while the vehicle is in motion. Learn more about the research.

Teen Driving Plan (TDP)
The development of TDP, an interactive web-based program to help parents more effectively supervise driving practice, involved five years of formative research followed by a randomized, controlled trial of young drivers and their parent supervisors. Key TDP study results show that the intervention increases parent engagement as driving supervisors, practice variety, and parent support of teens. Young drivers that used TDP over a 24-week period were 65 percent less likely to fail a rigorous on-road driving assessment than those not given access to TDP. Familes who used TDP also reported more driving practice in various environments, at night, and in bad weather. Learn more about the research.

Simulated Driving Assessment (SDA)
CHOP researchers have developed and validated the Simulated Driving Assessment (SDA), a simulator-based driving assessment that can differentiate between skilled and non-skilled drivers. The development of the SDA  followed more than a decade of foundational CHOP research regarding young driver crashes and over five years of research to create and validate it. The SDA offers for the first time a safe way to assess novice teen drivers' skills in high-risk driving scenarios that commonly lead to crashes. The SDA is a package of software products that runs on commercially available driving simulators. As a standard protocol to evaluate teen driver performance, the SDA has the potential to screen and assess for licensure readiness and could be used to guide targeted skill training. Future CHOP studies will further explore the SDA's use in evaluating risky driving behaviors in teens. Learn more about the research.

Realistic Simulation in a Driving Simulator
Our researchers are using our center's state-of-the-art simulator to develop interventions to help teens manage speed and passengers, as well as other distractions.We are also using the driving simulator to help improve the assessment of driving skills, to better understand how drivers’ behaviors and emotions can affect driving performance, to develop predictive algorithms to increase driving skills, and to evaluate web-interventions and curriculum for parent-supervised practice driving for teens. Click on "CIRP Driving Simulator" to learn about using this tool in your research.

Effect of New Jersey's Graduated Driver Licensing Decal Provision On Young Intermediate Drivers
The first study, published in 2012, found that crash involvement of an estimated 1,624 intermediate drivers was prevented in the first year after the decal's implementation, as well as a 9 percent decrease in the rate of police-reported crashes among intermediate drivers and a 14 percent increase in GDL-related citations issued to intermediate drivers.The second study, published in 2014, reported a sustained decline in intermediate driver crashes in the 2-year post-decal period as compared to the 4-year pre-decal period, with crash involvement of an estimated 3,197 intermediate drivers prevented. Further research is being conducted to better understand the causal mechanism by which NJ's decal may have exerted an effect.This line of research will provide much-needed scientific evidence to the effectiveness of decal laws in reducing crashes. Learn more about the research.

Teen Outreach Program Evaluation for Driving Safety
CHOP researchers have recently collaborated with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to develop tools to facilitate the evaluation and enhancement of safe driving programs for teens. The two-year project included stakeholder interviews in the community, review of existing programs both within the state and across the nation, and interactive workshops with traffic safety professionals. The final product of this collaborative work was the development of several important resources, including a comprehensive Program Planning & Evaluation Guide and The CHOP Program Planning and Evaluation YouTube Channel. These resources are intended to support Pennsylvania Community Traffic Safety Program Staff to identify their community’s traffic safety issues and needs, leverage that information to develop programs to maximize program impact, and measure the impact of their programs to guide future programming. These materials are focused on teen driving safety, but are applicable for a wide range of safety and other public health topics. Learn more about the research.

Developmental Disabilities and Driving
CHOP's Teen Driver Safety Research team is currently conducting rigorous research on teens and young adults with developmental disabilities to examine their rates of licensure and risk of crashing to help establish the epidemiologic foundation for future translational research. We plan to use this evidence to support the development of interventions that address the unique needs of adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to prepare them for safe, independent driving. Learn more about the research.

New Jersey Traffic Safety Outcomes Program
Allison E. Curry, PhD, MPH leads this program of research that aims to advance traffic safety research and associated epidemiologic methods through novel administrative data linkages. Learn more about the research.

Learn more about our Teen Driver Safety research.