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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Kentucky: Safety Apps for New Drivers Are Popular. But Will Teens Use Them to Become Better Drivers?

Traffic crashes are a leading cause of injury and death for adolescents, particularly in the first six months of licensed driving. It is imperative that public health practitioners understand how best to design effective interventions to improve teen driving safety, and .with the advent of smartphone technology, safe driving apps have surged in popularity as inexpensive and widely available means of monitoring teen driving. But how likely are young drivers to use these apps? And what features make safe driving apps most usable and effective?

To better understand behaviors of adolescent drivers when it comes to safe driving apps, a team of researchers at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health the Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities designed an investigation intended to investigate adolescents’ attitudes and intentions towards engaging in safe driving practices and using smartphone-based driving safety technology. Dr. Caitlin Northcutt Pope, assistant professor in the Graduate Center for Gerontology at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, is first author of the resulting publication.

After 207 participants aged 14–18 completed a safe driving survey, investigators found that perceived norms from family and friends had the greatest impact on likelihood of adolescents to state they intended to drive safely, as well as to use a safe driving app. Female participants were slightly more likely to report that they would use a driving app. These results point the way to future studies on technology-based interventions to increase the safety of adolescent drivers.

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