Online Program

Employing peer influence to reduce the frequency of car crashes involving young drivers

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Russell Henk, Teens in the Driver Seat Program, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, San Antonio, TX
Motor vehicle crashes kill more young people througout America than any other cause. Exacerbated by a lack of driving experience, the primary causes for these crashes include: driving at night, speeding, distractions such as texting and talking on cell phones and the presence of young passengers, not wearing seat belts, and alcohol. In addition, because the brains of young drivers are not yet fully developed, those drivers tend to be more impulsive and risk-prone than their more mature counterparts. Driver education, parental involvement and public policy (such as Graduated Driver License laws) all are essential to ensuring the safety of young drivers and passengers. Those young drivers and passengers, however, themselves represent a critically important element, as they are heavily influenced by their peers. Channeling that peer influence in a positive way can prove to be an effective deterrent to the crashes that disproportionally affect this population segment. The Texas A&M Transportation Institute has formalized this peer influence element through development of the Teens in the Driver Seat (TDS) program, introduced in more than 500 schools in Texas and dozens more in other states. Along with the state's GDL law and other safety initiatives targeting teen drivers, the TDS program has helped to produce a continual reduction in teen driver fatal crashes, making Texas the only state in which that metric has declined in every one of the past nine years. The program has been recognized as a national best practice for safety the past four years in a row.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate how peer influence can play an effective role in reducing the frequency of car crashes involving young drivers.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal of multiple federal and state contracts focusing on reducing the frequency of teen-driver crashes through the Teens in the Driver Seat Program. I have studied teen driver behavior and have published papers and reports in this area for more than a decade. While primarily focused in Texas, my work has also been active in California, Georgia, Connecticut, North Carolina and Montana.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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