Teen driving risk and prevention: Naturalistic driving research contributions and challenges

Bruce G. Simons-Morton, Johnathon P. Ehsani, Pnina Gershon, Sheila G. Klauer, Thomas A. Dingus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Naturalistic driving (ND) methods may be particularly useful for research on young driver crash risk. Novices are not safe drivers initially, but tend to improve rapidly, although the pace of learning is highly variable. However, knowledge is lacking about how best to reduce the learning curve and the variability in the development of safe driving judgment. A great deal has been learned from recent naturalistic driving (ND) studies that have included young drivers, providing objective information on the nature of crash risk and the factors that contribute to safety critical events. This research indicates that most learners obtain at least the amount of practice driving recommended and develop important driving skills. Unfortunately, most learners are not exposed during training to more complex driving situations and the instruction provided by supervising parents is mostly reactive and may not fully prepare teens for independent driving. While supervised practice driving is quite safe, crash rates are high during the first six months or so of independent driving then decline rapidly, but remain high for years relative to experienced drivers. Contributing factors to crash risk include exposure, inexperience, elevated gravitational-force event rates, greater willingness to engage in secondary tasks while driving, and social influence from peer passengers. The findings indicate the need and possible objectives for improving practice driving instruction and developing innovative prevention approaches for the first year of independent driving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number29
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2017


  • Adolescence
  • Attention
  • Distraction
  • Kinematics
  • Learning
  • Risk
  • Safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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