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
  • linkage and 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

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. An intervention such as this, rigorously tested and based on solid behavioral objectives, holds promise in making the learner period of Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) more effective. Future analyses will further explore ways to enhance TDP's positive effects on supervised practice to develop teenagers' driving skills before licensure. Click here to 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. Click here to learn more about the research. 

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 its effect on driving performance in a safe and controlled environment. Our researchers are also using the simulator to develop interventions to help teens manage speed and  passengers, as well as other distractions. Click here to learn more about the 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. Click here to 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. Click here to 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.

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