How We Approach Research
The Teen Driver Safety Research team at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at The CHOP Research Institute uses several methodologic approaches in its work to help reduce the frequency and severity of crashes with teens behind the wheel. These approaches include:
- Evidence-based Intervention Design and Evaluation
- Driving Simulation
- Analysis of Existing Data Sources
Evidence-based Intervention Design and Evaluation
At CIRP we employ a systematic approach towards the development and evaluation of behavior change programs. Key ingredients of successful programs include a well-articulated theory of why the program will be effective, a clear understanding of how the program will be delivered, and complementary evaluation plans for each. Drawing upon existing frameworks we developed a common vernacular for describing the fundamental steps in the intervention development process in a simplified way:
- Key Outcome – The overall and long-term goal of your program; it may not be impacted by any one specific program.
- Behavioral Objectives – Behaviors that, if performed, will lead to your Key Outcome.
- Target Constructs – Factors (often psychological and environmental) predictive of the Behavioral Objectives. In order to be a Target Construct the factor must:
- lead to the behavior
- be feasible to change via intervention
- have room to change (i.e., cannot be at ceiling)
Target Constructs are identified using behavior change theories and formative research with the target population.
- Intervention Content -- Content needs to map directly onto the Target Constructs. Depending on the nature of the intervention and how it will be delivered, Intervention Content can be as big as a comprehensive 12-week curriculum or as small as an image or phrase.
Here is an example of this approach in the context of the teen driver and teen passenger safety program, Ride Like A Friend. Drive Like You Care (RLAF), which was developed at CIRP.
An example of one of our studies using the driving simulator is Realistic Simulation in A Driving Simulator.
Using a high fidelity driving simulator located at CIRP, researchers are conducting a number of studies to help us understand how to best assess driving skills, how various driving scenarios affect drivers’ behaviors and emotions, and how interventions affect driving behavior and skill level. Driving simulators have made huge technological advances over the past several years and now achieve realistic reproductions of driving experiences and conditions. Controlled scenarios typical in the driving environment, such as dynamic traffic behaviors, pedestrians, time of day, and weather, can be programmed into the simulator to fit the needs of our studies.
One study involves collecting data on drivers' performance in a simulator, playing back the scenarios to those drivers, and asking them to describe their behaviors and perceived emotions associated with these scenarios. Understanding how various driving scenarios affect drivers, both objectively and subjectively, allows us to design interventions to target the causal relationship between potential risks on the road and driving outcomes. The research team also uses the driving simulator to evaluate the effect of interventions targeting individual behaviors, as well as to validate tools that assess skill level.
Analysis of Existing Data Sources
Analyses of these existing sources of data often yield important population-level insights and trends in teen driving safety, as well as the ability to monitor important metrics of success in reducing the number of teens killed or injured in motor vehicle crashes.
This approach involves identifying a number of existing sources of data to use in our teen driving safety research. Typically, we conduct novel epidemiologic analyses of these data or identify unique subgroups of interest from among larger populations included. This data primarily comes from federal government sources such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (including the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, the National Automotive Sampling System, and National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Study) or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (including the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System and the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System).
An example of this approach is Miles to go: Monitoring Progress in Teen Driver Safety.