Combination Of Interventions Are Found To Be Most Effective In Improving Driving Behavior Among Teenagers

Driver Education Not as Likely to Curb Risky Behavior Behind the Wheel as a Speeding Ticket

CHICAGO -- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15-20 year olds in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

New research examining the literature on what works in changing driving behavior found that educating youths about good driving behavior and traffic safety is not enough to change bad driving. The threat of severe penalties is also needed to keep teenagers safe behind the wheel, according to a review of over 54 studies. These findings will be presented at the 105th American Psychological Association's (APA) Annual Convention in Chicago.

"What we found in this comprehensive review," said researcher John R. Mattox, II, M.S., from the University of Memphis, "is that preventative measures like driver education, curfews and raising the drinking age are not enough to change bad driving behaviors without also including the threat of getting a ticket or losing your license. What really improves driving behaviors and traffic safety among youth is using a combination of both interventions. An example of this could be a public education and information campaign paired with a zero tolerance DWI enforcement campaign."

"It appears through the analysis of all the studies reviewed that the most effective programs instructed the youths how they should or should not drive and enforced consequences for inappropriate behaviors. The best interventions included minimum drinking age and blood alcohol concentration laws, curfews and delayed licensure laws. Graduated licensing (experience and competency are rewarded with more driving freedom until a full, unrestricted license is obtained) also was found effective in reducing risky driving behavior," said Mattox.

Those interventions that actively involved young drivers in learning, according to the review, were bett

Contact: Pam Willenz
American Psychological Association

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