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Virtual Driving Assessment Predicts Crash Risk For New Teenage Drivers

High-tech system identifies skill deficits to develop personalized interventions

A new virtual driving assessment has been designed to prevent the high number of crashes involving youngsters who have just passed their test.

The high-tech system predicts the risk of crashing for newly licensed teenage motorists.

Researchers found that skills behind the wheel measured at the time of being granted a license on the virtual driving assessment (VDA) help predict the crash risk of young drivers.

The VDA exposes drivers to common serious crash scenarios.

Scientists say the findings of the American study, published in the journal Pediatrics, bring them closer to identifying which skill deficits put young new drivers at the greatest risk of crashing.

They believe that such data would enable more personalized interventions to be developed to improve the driving skills that prevent crashes.

While motorists under the age of 21 only make up about one in 20 of all drivers on the road, research shows that they are involved in around one in eight (12 percent) of all vehicle crashes and 8.5 percent of fatal crashes.

And the time of greatest crash risk is in the months immediately after young drivers receive their license.

A new virtual driving assessment has been designed to prevent the high number of crashes involving youngsters who have just passed their test. OLEKSANDR P/PEXELS 

The new research was conducted by scientists at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) with colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan,

Over the past two decades, CIRP researchers have systematically determined the primary reason for novice driver crashes as inadequate driving skills, such as speed management.

They have also conducted studies towards the development of a self-guided VDA that measures the performance of these driving skills in common serious crash scenarios that cannot be evaluated with on-road testing.

The VDA uses the Ready-Assess platform developed by Diagnostic Driving, Inc., an AI-driven virtual driving assessment that provides the driver with the insights and tools to improve.

In the new study, the research team examined the ability of the VDA, delivered at the time of the licensing road test, to predict crash risk in the first year after obtaining a license in the state of Ohio.

The results of the VDA were linked to police-reported crash records for the first year after obtaining a license.

Study lead author Dr. Elizabeth Walshe, of CIRP, said: “Our previous research showed that performance on the VDA predicted actual on-road driving performance, as measured by failure on the licensing road test.

“This new study went further to determine whether VDA performance could identify unsafe driving performance predictive of future crash risk.

“We found that drivers categorized by their performance as having major issues with dangerous behavior were at higher risk of crashing than average new drivers.”

The researchers analyzed data from individual results of VDA performance of more than 16,000 first-time newly licensed drivers under the age of 25.

They found that the best-performing novice drivers, described as having “No Issues” based on their pattern of driving performance on the VDA, had a 10 percent lower than average crash risk.

A new virtual driving assessment has been designed to prevent the high number of crashes involving youngsters who have just passed their test. MATHEUS FERRORO/PEXELS

However, users of the VDA who had “Major Issues with Dangerous Behaviour” had an 11 percent higher than average crash risk.

The results remained similar when adjusting for several variables including age, sex, and socio-economic status.

Co-author Dr. Flaura Winston, co-scientific director of CIRP, said: “These findings are incredibly important because they provide us with quantitative evidence that we can approach young driver safety in a new way – by predicting crash risk and aiming resources to those who need them most.”

She added: “By providing this information before licensure, we can direct resources to those most at risk, and potentially prevent crashes from occurring when these teens first drive on their own.”

Co-author Dr. Dan Romer, of the University of Pennsylvania, said: “We hope [it] will lead to fewer injuries for teens as they first hit the road.”

Co-author Professor Michael Elliott, of the University of Michigan School of Public Health, says the VDA is designed to take drivers through a range of low to high-risk, uniquely realistic virtual driving scenarios that can determine where skills are weakest.

He added: “We know young novice drivers are at higher risk of crashing than more experienced drivers.

“The novel VDA tool uses information about their behaviors, such as virtual braking, accelerating, steering, and crashing.

“That risk profile has now been shown to be predictive of their crash behavior during their first couple of years on the road.

“What’s crucial to note is that most of these behaviors are amenable with additional driving training.”

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

Edited by and

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