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University of Iowa News Release

 

Dec. 18, 2006

Intervention Aims to Reduce Risky Teen Driving

Corinne Peek-Asa, a researcher in the University of Iowa College of Public Health, has received a $750,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to improve teen driving skills.

Peek-Asa, director of the UI Injury Prevention Research Center and UI professor of occupational and environmental health, and her colleagues will collaborate with Vidya Chande, medical director of the Emergency Department, and others at Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines. The three-year study will involve 250 parents of newly licensed teenaged drivers.

"Drivers in their first six months of licensure have the highest crash rates of all drivers," Peek-Asa said, "so this is clearly the group we want to influence if we want to ultimately reduce injuries and deaths of teen drivers." Peek-Asa stated that research shows parents play a critical role in the driving experience of their children.

Parents and teens from six schools located in small towns surrounding Des Moines will participate in the study. An educational program will inform parents of common risks and problems for teen drivers and train them in specific communication techniques to influence their teens' driving behaviors. The researchers will then monitor the impact of the information and training on teen driving habits.

"Currently there are few programs available that are aimed at fostering dialogue between parents and teens on the importance of safe driving," Chande said. "We are enthusiastic about looking at new approaches that will give parents the guidelines and tools necessary to empower their teens to be responsible and safe drivers."

Since 2000 the leading cause of death among Iowa teens ages 16-19 has been motor vehicle crashes, according to information from the Centers for Disease Control. During this period, 79.4 percent of all Iowa teen deaths (243 of 306 deaths) resulted from a crash. The numbers of teens injured in these crashes are much higher than the numbers who are killed.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications, 4257 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa, 52242; Blank Children's Hospital, 1200 Pleasant Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50226

MEDIA CONTACT: Debra Venzke, 319-335-9647, debra-venzke@uiowa.edu; Jennifer Perry, 515-241-5283, perryja@ihs.org.