Resources to Prepare, Protect Teen Drivers

This article originated in the September/October 2013 issue of Safe Ride News.

In the past few years, a great amount of research and program energy has turned to the subject of teen driver safety, so there is more support than ever for people who are looking for information and resources to help them protect teens in their community.  This article, which focuses on the significant offerings of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Center for Injury Research and Prevention, and Safe Kids U.S.A., is not meant to be all-inclusive, but it provides a look at three excellent go-to resources.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS): (select Teenagers)

The IIHS offers a vast central resource of information on all aspects of teen driver safety.  The homepage notes that this subject is important because “Teen drivers have crash rates 3 times those of drivers 20 and older per mile driven,” citing immaturity (which often leads to risky driving behavior) and inexperience as the primary reasons.  IIHS supports graduated driver licensing laws (GDL) as an effective way to reduce teen crash rates.  (See SRN March/April 2013 and below for recent coverage of GDL.)   On the IIHS Teenager site, menu items include basic Q&A, Fatality Facts, and State Laws.  This information is an excellent place to get the basic data to support programming.  For those wanting more in-depth information, there are links to articles on this subject printed in IIHS’s Status Report magazine or other publications and to research from its Highway Loss Data Institute.  The site also provides an extensive bibliography of IIHS reports and PDFs of IIHS comments to regulators for proposed legislation involving teens.  There are even links to presentation materials, including those presented by IIHS researchers at conferences such as Lifesavers.

Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP): (select Teen Driving Safety)

Through its multidisciplinary Teen Driver Safety Research program, the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia conducts teen driver safety research, most of which focuses on one of the following three categories:

  • Teen driver skill acquisition and training.
  • Parental enforcement and teen compliance with GDL provisions.
  • Post-license safety-positive and safety-negative driving behaviors.

In 2010, CIRP launched, a website that provides access to its resources to help prevent teen driver crashes.   The vast amount of information is organized by the user’s background/needs: parent, teen, educator, or policymaker. The site is frequently updated so that it includes the most current research information.   A recent CIRP addition is the Research in Action blog.  Teen driver-related topics are often among the frequent posts by the respected researchers at CIRP; recent titles include, “When Teen Research and Reality Collide,” “Raise Awareness of Four Risky Teen Driving Behaviors,” and “New Resource Alert—New Driver Safety Toolset.”  Sign up to automatically receive blog posts (and get access to archived posts) at the CIRP website.

Safe Kids USA (SK):

Safest Generation  (for 11- to 12-year-olds)
Countdown2Drive  (for 13- to 14-year-olds)

The strategy of SK’s two programs, Safest Generation and Countdown2Drive, is to engage preteens/young teens and parents in an age-appropriate manner well before the teen gets behind the wheel.   Safest Generation is a round-robin program for preteens and adults that takes participants through five vehicle safety stations.   Children of this age stay engaged while learning around cars, and parents gain safety insights, as well.  This program is ideal for groups, such as scouts, etc.   Countdown2Drive also engages both teens and adults, but is web-based.  It focuses on safe driving expectations for pre-drivers, having the parent and child each fill out his or her individual expectation form and then bringing them together to make customized family rules.  This program can be used for either individual families or for groups.