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Inj Prev 12:i25-i29 doi:10.1136/ip.2006.012021
  • The science of safe driving among adolescents

Can novice drivers be trained to scan for information that will reduce their likelihood of a crash?

  1. D L Fisher1,
  2. A P Pollatsek2,
  3. A Pradhan1
  1. 1Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, USA
  2. 2Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr D L Fisher
 Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, 210D Marston Hall, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01002, USA; fisher{at}ecs.umass.edu
  • Accepted 24 April 2006

Abstract

Sixteen year old drivers are involved in 10.3 fatal crashes per 100 million vehicle miles, a rate almost double that of 18 year olds and almost eight times that of 45–64 year olds, who are the safest group of drivers. Crash rates are particularly higher during the first month of licensure and decline rapidly for about six months and 1000 miles and then much more slowly for at least two years, consistent with a typical learning curve. Research indicates that drivers who have their learner’s permit or are just newly licensed have particular difficulties identifying areas of a scenario from which hidden risks could emerge. Standard driver education programs do not appear to address these difficulties adequately. This suggests that some alternative form of driver training could reduce the crashes, either in the classroom or on the road. A PC based program designed to teach drivers to recognize risks early on is shown to improve their awareness of hazards, both on an advanced driving simulator and on the road.

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