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University of Iowa News Release

 

May 25, 2010

UI researchers find teen driver study improves driving safety

Using on-board, event-triggered video recorders to document the driving activities of new teenage drivers and sharing the videos with teen drivers and their parents can greatly reduce the number of potentially dangerous driving events.

That is the finding of a study by Daniel McGehee, director of the Human Factors and Vehicle Safety Research Program at the University of Iowa Public Policy Center, and his colleagues. The results of the study are published in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

McGehee, co-author and project principal investigator, said the study data suggest that an event-triggered video recording device and weekly report card can reduce teenagers' exposure to risky behavior during the critical first months of driving -- when there is high risk for vehicle crashes.

Lead author Cher Carney, a human factors researcher at the UI Public Policy Center, said the palm-sized recorders collect a 12-second clip of video (8 seconds before the event and 4 seconds after the event) only after they have been triggered by an abrupt steering, braking or acceleration event.

"I see event-triggered video systems as a compromise," she said. "They give novice teen drivers freedom to gain experience and anxious parents peace of mind. Without being in the vehicle, parents can learn about the types of situations that are causing their teen the most problems on the road. This information can help parents limit exposure to these situations and focus additional practice where it is needed.”

The study, conducted with students from Eagan High School of Eagan, Minnesota, near Minneapolis, involved 36 16-year-old drivers (19 males and 17 females), all of whom were newly licensed drivers with less than five months of unsupervised driving experience. The results showed the number of "coachable events" -— behaviors that can be modified through further driver training -- declined by 61 percent during the study.

The Eagan study is the suburban companion to a UI rural teen driving study completed two years ago at Clear Creek Amana High School in Tiffin, Iowa. Taken together, the two studies represent over 500,000 miles of testing using this technology.

McGehee, who also serves as adjunct associate professor in the UI College of Engineering and College of Public Health, said the study provides further evidence that video feedback technologies are successful in reducing safety-relevant events among novice drivers. "Another important outcome was that user acceptance is extremely high -- over 90 percent of the teen participants recommend this type of technology and feedback to other teens," he said.

McGehee said that information gathered from the study has the potential to save lives, given the high rate of fatalities resulting from teenage driving errors.

He noted that in 2005, motor-vehicle crashes accounted for more adolescent deaths in the United States (5,253) than did homicide (2,219), suicide (1,809), and all forms of cancer (981) combined. Also, the crash rate per mile driven for a 16-year-old driver is about four times the crash rate for all drivers (61.4 per 1,000 drivers vs. 16.8 per 1,000 drivers).

McGehee said that future research activity will include looking at 14-year-old school license drivers.

In addition to McGehee and Carney, article co-authors include Michelle Reyes Mireille Raby of the UI Public Policy Center, and John D. Lee, formerly of the UI College of Engineering and currently at the University of Wisconsin.

The study was sponsored by the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT), Minnesota DOT, General Motors, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Daniel McGehee, principal investigator, 319-335-6819, daniel-mcgehee@uiowa.edu; Gary Galluzzo, writer, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu