Effects of in-vehicle monitoring on the driving behavior of teenagers

Farmer, Charles M. / Kirley, Bevan B. / McCartt, Anne T.
Journal of Safety Research
February 2010

Objectives: The objective was to determine if teenage driving behavior improves when a monitoring and feedback device is installed in the teen's vehicle.
Methods: Vehicles of 85 teenage drivers were fit with a device that detected all instances of sudden braking/acceleration, speeding, and nonuse of seat belts. Drivers were assigned randomly to one of four research groups, differing in whether or not an alert sounded in the vehicle and whether or not parents were given access to websites containing notification records. Time trends in event rates per mile traveled were compared using Poisson regression.
Results: Seat belt use improved when violations were reported to the parent websites, and improved even more when in-vehicle alerts were activated. Consistent reductions in speeding were achieved only when teenagers received alerts about their speeding behavior, believed their speeding behavior would not be reported to parents if corrected, and when parents were being notified of such behavior by report cards.
Conclusions: Electronic monitoring of teenage drivers can reduce the incidence of risky behavior, especially seat belt nonuse. More complicated behavior is more difficult to change, however.
Impact on industry: Parent participation is key to successful behavioral modification, but it is yet to be determined how best to encourage such participation.