Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and a major cause of injury among US teenagers, and teen drivers have crash rates higher than any other age group. Fortunately, parents can play a vital role in the driving experience of their children. This randomized controlled trial will evaluate an intervention that provides parents with objective feedback about their teen's driving as well as strategies to improve communication with their teen about driving. We will recruit 180 newly-licensed teen drivers and a parent or guardian from local high schools and driver's education programs, where several successful pilot studies have been completed. After student assent and parent consent, parents will be divided into three groups. The control group will receive a passive in-vehicle video system that records video segments while the teen is driving. Segments are coded to identify driving errors and safety behaviors (such as seat belt use, use of cell phones). The control group will receive no feedback from the in-vehicle video system. The first intervention group will have the in-vehicle video system installed, and the system will provide feedback in two ways. First, the teen driver will be alerted that they have made a driving error (measured as an abrupt change in steering or breaking) by flashing lights on the video camera. Second, their parent will receive a weekly report card that provides information about driving errors and safety behaviors. The second intervention group will receive the in-vehicle video system with feedback (lights designating a recorded event and the weekly report card), and the parent will also receive coaching on effective communication with their teen using techniques of motivational interviewing. Our main hypotheses are that: parent- teen dyads who receive feedback will have reduced driving errors and increased safety behaviors than dyads with no feedback;and, parent-teen dyads who receive instruction on communication techniques will have improved quality and quantity of communication about driving than dyads not learning these techniques. If successful, this intervention could be widely implemented to assist parents in improving the safety of their children as they learn to drive.
This research project will evaluate an intervention that provides parents with objective feedback about their teen's driving using in vehicle monitoring, as well as strategies to improve communication with their teens about safety behaviors behind the wheel. If successful, this intervention could be widely implemented to help parents improve the driving skills and safe driving practices of their teen-aged novice drivers. The long range goal of this research is to reduce crashes and related injuries among teen drivers.