Distracted Driving Research
Cell phones and passengers are a major source of inattention to the roadway, contributing to over 20 percent of teen driver motor vehicle crashes, the leading cause of death in teens. Engaging in handheld cell phone use increases the risk of a crash substantially, and distracted driving research is much needed to prevent crashes involving young drivers. Investigators at the University of Pennsylvania and the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia are working together to develop behavior change interventions that include strategies to encourage focused attention on driving.
Catherine C. McDonald, PhD, RN and M. Kit Delgado, MD, MS are conducting a number of studies to test different interventions aimed at reducing distracted driving, particularly in teen drivers. The distracted driving research tests the effects of a web-based educational intervention, as well as different ways to implement technological solutions such as automated blocking of cell phone use and silencing of notifications while the vehicle is in motion. Outcomes for these studies are measured either through use of a driving simulator and/or a smartphone application and paired in-vehicle device.
Implementation of Technology that Limits Handheld Cell Phone Use While Driving
Teen drivers often tell us their parents urge them not to text while driving because it is dangerous, yet the teens frequently see them checking email or texting while driving. In this study, we are currently enrolling both teens and their parents to install a smartphone application that tracks and limits cell phone use while driving. Parents will be notified via email when their teen overrides the cell phone blocking function. The study tests the feasibility of an intervention in which teens also receive an email alert when their parents override the cell phone blocking function. The overall goal of the research is to reduce rates of cell phone use while driving for the entire family.
In this study, which is closed for enrollment, we are testing the feasibility of different cell phone blocking strategies among teen drivers. The first is “opt-in” blocking, which is similar to using “Airplane Mode:” Drivers must remember to turn on the app when getting in the car. The second is “opt-out” blocking: The app activates automatically when the vehicle is in motion. The third strategy is “opt-out” blocking with notifications: This is the same as the second strategy, but parents will also be alerted when the teen overrides the blocking strategy.
Funds for these projects were obtained by M. Kit Delgado, MD, MS from the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics/Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics Pilot Grant Program and by the Penn NIA Roybal Center for Behavioral Economics.
Feasibility Testing of an Intervention to Reduce Teen Driver Inattention
This research is funded to Catherine C. McDonald, PhD, RN by the National Institute of Nursing Research, the University Research Foundation at PENN and the Dr. Dorothy Mereness Endowed Research Fund at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.
- Teen Drivers' Skill Acquisition and Training
- Safe Driving Assessment
- TeenDrivingPlan (TDP)
- Compliance with and Enforcement of Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Provisions
- GDL Decal Research
- Young Drivers' License and Crash Patterns in New Jersey
- Improving Teen Driving Behaviors
- Developmental Disabilities and Driving
- Teen Outreach Program Evaluation for Driving Safety