Learning to drive: parental attitudes toward introducing teen drivers to advanced driver assistance systems

Weast, Rebecca A. / Mueller, Alexandra S. / Kolodge, Kristin
Traffic Injury Prevention (TIP)
In press

Objective: Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) have the potential to help mitigate the crash risk faced by new teen drivers. There has been little research on how these drivers use ADAS, as most only have access to these systems in their parents’ vehicles when learning to drive because teens tend to drive older, less expensive vehicles when driving independently. This study examined how parental attitudes towards ADAS influence how and when parents introduce their teens to these systems when teaching them to drive.
Methods: Three web-based focus groups were conducted with parents who owned ADAS-equipped vehicles and who either had a teen with either a learner permit or a teen who recently began driving independently. The moderator-led discussion examined participant attitudes about teen driving risk, the perceived benefits or risks associated with teen use of ADAS, and parents’ teaching strategies for ADAS. Researchers generated a list of likely themes from a review of existing literature and then coded participant responses according to those themes.
Results: Parents who chose to introduce ADAS to their new teen drivers did so while also reporting conflicting opinions about the reliability of vehicle technologies and the impact of such systems on driving safety and skill acquisition. Many parents reported some distrust of ADAS and concerns that some features could hinder the development of good driving habits, although most participants stated that ADAS have had a positive impact on their teen drivers' safety. Opinions were split about the best point at which to introduce ADAS to teens, with half preferring introduction at the outset and half preferring to wait until the teen had mastered basic driving skills. Attitudes varied according to individual vehicle systems, with a preference for blind spot monitoring and a general dislike of lane-keeping assistance.
Conclusions: Specific concerns about the potential impact of ADAS on teen driving safety and skill acquisition do not prevent parents from using such systems, although the teaching strategies parents use vary according to their preferences for individual systems.