Teenage drivers have a higher risk of being in a motor vehicle crash and sustaining injury than any other driving populations. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury and death for teenage drivers. The reasons for this range from simple inexperience with operating a motor vehicle to the lack of cognitive development that comes with age.
However, recent research indicates there are practices and technologies that can help reduce this risk. Scientific evidence collected to date suggests providing real-time feedback can help teens learn to become better drivers and providing delayed feedback can improve the learning curve.
In order to better understand the relationships between feedback, risky behavior, and crash rates, the CSRC, VTTI and others are collaborating to study the effects and value of a driver monitoring and feedback system on teenage driving performance.
The CSRC/VTTI teen driver coaching project will study the behavior of 90 newly licensed teen drivers. The project will monitor the teens for risky behaviors common to young drivers, including but not limited to unsafe vehicle speed, extreme braking and acceleration, rapid turns and swerves, the presence of alcohol, not wearing a seat belt, driver distractions, and presence of passengers.
Throughout the study, a data acquisition system will record video and vehicle data for all driving events. The teens will get immediate feedback for risky behaviors or maneuvers in the form of a warning light or an audible alert. Delayed feedback will be a weekly report card, sent to parents. This report card will include an analysis of vehicle data collected by the data acquisition system and video of unsafe driving behaviors, as well as suggestions from an expert driving coach.
Using this data, the project researchers will investigate the following types of questions:
Does feedback reduce rates of crash/near-crash involvement for teen drivers? Of the types of feedback presented to the teen drivers (e.g. hard braking/ hard swerving), were some types more important to the reduction of crash/near-crash occurrence than others? After the feedback was turned off, did the occurrence of unsafe driving maneuvers return? What are the greatest behavioral risk factors for teens in the presence of driving performance feedback? How often do they engage in these behaviors? Do human characteristics (personality, risk taking propensity, parenting style) interact with driving performance feedback to affect crash and near crash frequency?
The three-year project will start with the recruitment of test subjects and finalization of the vehicle monitoring system. Data collection will last approximately 15 to 18 months for each teen driver, covering the period when they graduate from their learner’s permit to a Provisional License. The remainder of the project’s life will be devoted to final data analysis and preparation of the final report.