Impact Teen Drivers Research Projects

Research and evaluation are crucial to Impact Teen Drivers’ success and provides the scientific foundation for our evidence-based and continually evaluated program. Utilizing focus groups, surveys, and empirical research, our materials remain fresh and effective and we can provide data useful to local, state and federal policy development.

Past Projects

Study #1:

Impact Teen Drivers collaborated on a study with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) to examine whether a school-based education program reduced reckless and distracted driving attitudes and behaviors (reported and observed); and whether an education program combined with high visibility enforcement reduced reckless and distracted driving (reported and observed).

Findings: Education combined with enforcement increased seat belt use and decreased passenger distraction.

Study #2:

Crash Rates of 18-19-Year-Olds who Delay Licensure Compared to those Licensed Under the California Graduated Driver Licensing Program

Findings: Much higher percentages of California teens are licensed at ages 16 (40.3%) and 18 (31.2%) than at age 17 (16.4%). The fatal/injury crash rates of novice 18-year-olds who avoided GDL are 27-99% higher during their first year of licensure than those for 18-year-olds licensed under GDL. Similarly, novice 19-year-olds who avoided GDL have first-year fatal/injury crash rates that are 52-57% higher than those for 19-year-olds licensed under GDL. The fatal/injury crash rates of 18-year-olds who avoided GDL are consistently higher than those for all other novices—including 16- and 17-year-olds—for up to 3 years after licensure; fatal/injury crash rates of 19-year-old novices who avoided GDL are higher than those for all other novices for up to 1 year after licensure. The crash rates of novices ages 21 or older are considerably lower than those for younger novices.

Study #3:

Changes in 16–17-Year-Olds’Crash and Traffic Violation Rates during Unsupervised Licensure

Findings: Majorities of 16-year-olds (57%) and 17-year-olds (73%) actually hold their learner permits longer than the required 6 months; majorities (67%–81%) of age 18 or older novices hold their learner permits less than 6 months. Crash rates of novice 16- and 17-year-olds—as well as most other age groups—are highest almost immediately after they are licensed to drive unsupervised, after which their rates decline quickly during their first year of licensure and at a slower rate for the second and third years. Novice 16- and 17-year-olds’ traffic violation rates reach their zenith long after their total crash rates peak and decline, whereas violation rates for older novices peak during their first year of licensure. Over 70% of 16- and 17-year-old novices are crash-free for the first 3 years of licensure.

Current Projects

Adept Driver Research Proposal

This research proposal combines two complementary programs, Impact Teen Drivers’ Parent-Teen Workshop and ADEPT Driver’s teenSMART course. We propose the court randomly assign teens to the Impact Teen Drivers/teenSMART program and traffic school programs. We will evaluate the Impact Teen Drivers/teenSMART program’s safety performance (citations and collisions) against a control group (teens issued citations that do not receive Impact Teen Drivers/teenSMART) for one year after the program.

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