UI, University Of Minnesota To Use Video Feedback In Teen Driving Study

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Teenage drivers and how they are influenced by video feedback will be the focus of a six-month study to be conducted at Eagan High School in Eagan, Minn., by the University of Iowa and the University of Minnesota (UMN) beginning this spring.

This project is the second in a series examining teen driving during the first six months after obtaining a driver's license. The Eagan study follows a successful pilot project conducted in rural Iowa, where 25 teens logged more than 350,000 miles. During one year of driving, participants significantly reduced their instances of safety-related driving events, such as speeding through turns and curves.

Daniel McGehee, director of the Human Factors and Vehicle Safety Research Division of the UI Public Policy Center, notes that the scientific study is the first of its kind to look at the use of on-board video event recorders to improve teen driving in urban settings.

"The central issue we are studying is how these 20-second videos can be turned into 'teachable moments' for both parents and teens," McGehee says. "It is hoped that the 'mentoring' versus 'monitoring' approach will reduce the number of unsafe driving events and help teens understand their own driving styles. This type of feedback can also help parents to gain trust and confidence in their new teen driver."

McGehee, principal investigator of the project, says that UI and UMN human factors researchers will study teens using "naturalistic" methods to capture potentially unsafe driving. Such methods include having drivers use their own vehicles rather than test vehicles or simulators. A palm-sized event recorder will be installed into participants' vehicles to capture the unsafe behaviors. Only certain events will 'trigger' the system to begin recording a 20-second clip. 'Triggered' events include situations where a driver abruptly brakes, steers or accelerates. While these abrupt driving maneuvers are generally associated with unsafe driving, good driving responses are also captured, says McGehee, who also serves as adjunct associate professor in the College of Engineering and the College of Public Health.

Eagan High School was chosen as a site because of its large student population and proximity to the Twin Cities' intra-city freeway network. Fifty new drivers will be recruited to participate in the study.