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Accid Anal Prev. 2014 Aug;69:15-22. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2014.02.015. Epub 2014 Mar 2.

Parent comments and instruction during the first four months of supervised driving: an opportunity missed?

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University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, NC, United States. Electronic address:
University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, NC, United States.
Department of Maternal and Child Health School of Public Health University of North Carolina, NC, United States.


The present study examined the nature of the comments and instruction provided by parents during supervised driving. Unlike previous studies which rely on self-report, the data in this study were obtained through direct observation of parents and teens using in-vehicle cameras with audio recording. The cameras were installed in the vehicles of 50 families for the first four months of the learner license stage. The findings show a great deal of conversation takes place while teens are driving with a supervisor, and that much of this conversation concerns driving. Sixty-one percent (61%) of all recorded clips included driving-related conversation. The most common type of comment by parents was instruction about vehicle handling or operation, observed in 53% of those clips with conversation about driving. This was followed by pointing out something about the driving environment (such as when it was clear to enter traffic; 23%), negative comments about the teen's driving (22%), and helping the driver navigate (18%). Other potentially helpful types of instruction, including explanation or insights regarding higher order skills (e.g., hazard anticipation and detection), were noticeably less frequent. Moreover, higher order instruction remained low during the first four months of the learner stage, even as instruction about vehicle handling/operation decreased. These findings suggest parents are not taking full advantage of the opportunity provided by mandatory periods of supervised driving to help their children develop an understanding of important aspects of driving.


Communication; Instruction; Learner's permit; Parents; Supervision; Teen drivers

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