, Former U of M Researcher, Mechanical Engineering
Newly licensed teens have an extremely high risk for crashes. In 2003, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 5,691 teenagers died in motor vehicle crashes. This amounts to more than one-third of deaths from all causes for teenagers. In response, the Universities of Iowa and Minnesota led a pilot project to examine the use of new methods to motivate safe teen driving. This method examined teen driving during the first six to twelve months after teens obtain a driver's license and was based on using an event-triggered video system to record and give feedback about unsafe driving behavior. The proposed system had the ability to provide feedback in two distinctly different ways. First, the system had an LED that blinked to tell the teen driver that an event trigger had been detected and recorded, giving the driver immediate feedback. Data from the on-board diagnostics port such as speed, throttle position, and brake activity could also be recorded and synced with the video clips. The video data made it possible to understand the context of the unsafe event and the task occupying the driver at that time, such as distraction or risky behaviors with passengers. Second, the video recorded during the unsafe driving episode was sent to the parent to allow for a second form of feedback: a parent-teen coaching session. This research differed from other interventional studies because it gave clear, contextual feedback in the form of video and audio of each unsafe driving episode captured. It is hoped that this type of feedback will help teen drivers become aware of the driving behaviors they engage in that may be unsafe, recognize any patterns of unsafe behavior, and improve their driving for the long-term.