Can a smartphone application measure driving behavior during the learner permit period?

Ehsani, Johnathon P. / Weast, Rebecca A. / Chirles, Theresa / Hellinger, Andrew / Yenokyan, Gayane / Zhang, Yifan
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
October 2022

Introduction: The purpose of this study was to measure the effect of the logbook format (i.e., paper vs. a smartphone application [app]) on self-reported learner driving behavior. For those who used the app (the electronic logbook), we compared the agreement between their survey-reported trips and the trips recorded by the app and asked about their perceptions of using an app to measure driving.
Methods: Data were collected for 147 parent-teen dyads (pairs) in the electronic logbook group and 131 parent-teen dyads in the paper logbook group for 6 continuous months while teenagers held a learner permit to practice driving under the supervision of a licensed driver. Self-reported driving was collected using six consecutive monthly surveys where parents/guardians were asked to report the amount of driving completed by their teen during the past week. App-recorded trips for the same week were identified for each electronic logbook dyad and compared with their survey data.
Results: On average, participants reported driving 2.5 trips and 3.0 hours in the prior week, with a wide between-subjects range in practice driving. There were no statistically significant differences in any measures of self-reported practice driving (trips, hours, or variety) by logbook type (electronic vs. paper). Agreement between self-reported and app-recorded trips ranged from 68.6% to 79.0% of trips (allowing for a difference of two trips per week). User satisfaction with the electronic logbook was high, with 93.0% of teenagers and 91.9% of parents stating they would recommend the app to a friend. A slightly lower percentage of participants stated they would be willing to continue to use the app beyond the study period (89.5% of teenagers and 86.2% of parents). Almost half of teenagers (42.1%) and one third of parents (30.1%) reported issues using the app at some point during the study, and a small percentage of participants stated the app was a burden (6.1% of teenagers and 4.9% of parents).
Conclusions: The findings demonstrate that the use of an electronic logbook is a viable approach to measuring practice driving during the learner stage of licensure. There was no difference in the self-reported amount of driving between the paper logbook and electronic logbook groups, suggesting that practice driving behavior was not impacted by the data collection method.