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Awarded Research Grant to Prevent Unintentional Injuries

Evaluation of a Parent/Teen Driving Safety Program

FOA Number: CE06-001: Research Grants to Prevent Unintentional Injuries
Project Period: 9/1/2006 – 8/31/2009
Application/Grant Number: 1-R49-CE000947-01
Principal Investigator: Peek-Asa, Corinne
The University of Iowa
Occupational and Environmental Health
100 Oakdale Campus 114 IREH
Iowa City, IA 52242


Drivers in their first six months of licensure have the highest crash rates of all drivers, leading to high rates of injury for themselves, their passengers, and those they hit. Parents play a critical role in the driving experience of their children. Policy approaches, such as Graduated Driver's Licensing Systems, and educational programs that encourage parents to define driving rules and restrictions have shown some success in reducing teen risky driving. However, methods to increase parental involvement in teaching driving skills and encouraging safe driving behaviors have not been widely tested. Such interventions can augment existing GDL systems by increasing parental knowledge and involvement in learning to drive. The long-range goal of this research is to develop a sustainable and generalizable intervention that will reduce crashes and related injuries among teen drivers by increasing safe driving practices. We propose to conduct a randomized trial of an educational intervention for parents of newly licensed teenaged drivers to increase parental involvement in teaching driving skills and safe driving behavior. Six schools in small towns in the state of Iowa have agreed to participate. These schools are all within 50 miles of Des Moines, Iowa's largest city, which will lead to driving exposure in rural and town environments. The intervention will have two components: the intervention content and the intervention delivery. The intervention content includes specific driving goals that parents meet with their teen drivers that focus on skills and behavior. This project will be conducted in a rural population, so skills for driving on rural roads will be included. The delivery of the intervention will use motivational interviewing, a successful and age appropriate health behavior communication technique that has shown great success in related health fields. 250 parents and their teens will be individually randomized into intervention and control groups. The intervention group will receive a tailored, in-person intervention with a Traffic Safety Specialist, with follow-up intervention phone calls at one, three, and six months. The control group will be a "usual care" group who will receive driving safety materials available to all new drivers and their parents. Parents and teens will be followed to see if intervention parents meet the intervention's driving goals and to see if the parent and teens report improved driving skills and behaviors in the intervention compared with the control group.