Predicting Crash Risks in Young Drivers: The Role of Virtual Driving Assessments

Studies show VDAs predict crash risks in newly licensed teen drivers, revolutionizing safety interventions.

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics highlights the promising role of Virtual Driving Assessments (VDAs) in predicting crash risks among newly licensed teenagers.

This innovative approach could revolutionize the way we approach young driver safety by identifying those most at risk and providing targeted interventions.

Virtual Driving Assessments: The Future of Crash Prevention?

Researchers from the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, in collaboration with experts from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan, have made significant progress in understanding which driving skill deficits increase crash risks for young drivers.

This crucial insight could pave the way for more tailored interventions to hone specific driving skills, ultimately reducing accidents.

Statistics show that while drivers aged 15 to 20 constitute roughly 5% of all drivers, they are implicated in about 12% of all vehicular crashes and 8.5% of fatal ones.

The period immediately after obtaining a license poses the highest risk, predominantly due to a lack of driving skills.

However, the focus isn’t just on those who crash.

A significant number of new drivers navigate the roads safely, emphasizing the need to identify which drivers are more prone to accidents during their learning phase.

Recognizing these individuals early on allows for timely interventions, creating safer road conditions for all.

Two Decades of Research Culminate in the VDA

Over the last 20 years, researchers at CIRP have been diligently working to understand the primary causes of accidents involving novice drivers.

Their findings indicate that a lack of essential driving skills, such as proper speed management, is a significant culprit.

Their efforts have also led to the creation of a self-directed VDA, facilitated by the Ready-Assess platform by Diagnostic Driving, Inc. This AI-enhanced virtual driving test equips drivers with vital insights and tools to enhance their driving capabilities.

In their latest research, the team evaluated the efficacy of the VDA in predicting crash risks during the first year of licensure in Ohio.

They combined the results of the VDA with police-reported crash records from the same period.

Notably, they discovered that individuals identified by the VDA as exhibiting dangerous behavior were more likely to be involved in accidents than their average counterparts.

A comprehensive analysis of VDA results, gathered from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, was conducted on 16,914 new drivers under 25.

These data, accumulated between July 2017 and December 2019, indicated that the best-performing drivers had a crash risk 10% below average, while those with significant issues exhibited an 11% higher than average crash risk.

Flaura Winston, MD, PhD, of CIRP, emphasized the significance of these findings, suggesting they could redefine young driver safety by directing resources to those most in need.

Michael Elliott, PhD, from the University of Michigan, further highlighted the VDA’s capacity to present a range of realistic driving scenarios, enabling the identification of areas needing improvement.

Resources and Information

  • Paper Title: Driving Skills at Licensure Predict Time to First Crash in Newly Licensed Young Drivers
  • Journal: PEDIATRICS
  • DOI: 10.1542/peds.2022-060817
  • Publication Date: October 16, 2023