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J Safety Res. 2007;38(2):203-13. Epub 2007 Mar 26.

Technology and teen drivers.

Author information

  • University of Iowa, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, 2130 Seamans Center, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA. jdlee@engineering.uiowa.edu


The rapid evolution of computing, communication, and sensor technology is likely to affect young drivers more than others. The distraction potential of infotainment technology stresses the same vulnerabilities that already lead young drivers to crash more frequently than other drivers. Cell phones, text messaging, MP3 players, and other nomadic devices all present a threat because young drivers may lack the spare attentional capacity for vehicle control and the ability to anticipate and manage hazards. Moreover, young drivers are likely to be the first and most aggressive users of new technology. Fortunately, emerging technology can also support safe driving. Electronic stability control, collision avoidance systems, intelligent speed adaptation, and vehicle tracking systems can all help mitigate the threats to young drivers. However, technology alone is unlikely to make young drivers safer. One promising approach to tailoring technology to teen drivers is to extend proven methods for enhancing young driver safety. The success of graduated drivers license programs (GDL) and the impressive safety benefit of supervised driving suggest ways of tailoring technology to the needs of young drivers. To anticipate the effects of technology on teen driving it may be useful to draw an analogy between the effects of passengers and the effects of technology. Technology can act as a teen passenger and undermine safety or it can act as an adult passenger and enhance safety. Impact on industry: Rapidly developing technology may have particularly large effects on teen drivers. To maximize the positive effects and minimize the negative effects will require a broad range of industries to work together. Ideally, vehicle manufacturers would work with infotainment providers, insurance companies, and policy makers to craft new technologies so that they accommodate the needs of young drivers. Without such collaboration young drivers will face even greater challenges to their safety as new technologies emerge.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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