Objective: To understand definitions of the phrases “good driver” and “safe driver” among teen pre-drivers and early drivers in order to appropriately tailor messages about driving safety.
Design: Qualitative study using freelisting, an anthropological research technique, to explore nuances in the ways that teens define a good driver and a safe driver
Setting: Classes in six high schools each in a different state in the USA.
Subjects: 193 adolescent pre-drivers and early drivers, aged 15–17.
Main outcome measures: Meaning of the phrase good driver and safe driver was identified for subgroups of adolescents.
Results: Teen pre-drivers and early drivers define a good driver and a safe driver as one who is cautious, alert, responsible, does not speed, obeys the law, uses seatbelts, and concentrates. There are subtle and potentially important differences in the way that subgroups define a good driver and a safe driver.
Conclusions: Injury prevention experts need to attend closely to the implicit meanings that teens attach to everyday terms. Freelisting is a method that identifies perceptions about the meaning of health communication messages and suggests differences in meaning among subgroups.
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Funding: External funding was provided by the State Farm Insurance Companies TM (State Farm).
Competing interests: None.