New Technology Could Predict Your Teen Driver’s Risk for a Crash

Cutting-Edge Technology That Can Anticipate Your Teen Driver's Crash Risk

New tech predicts risk of teen driver crashes.

Teen driver

When your teen gets a driver’s license, you’ll likely have mixed emotions. While you’re off the hook for carpools, it’s scary to think about your baby behind the wheel.

But fear not! There’s a new video game technology that can determine what kind of driver your teen will be. And no, it’s not a crystal ball or a magic potion – it’s virtual reality. This innovative technology exposes drivers to the most common serious crash scenarios and assesses their reactions. It’s like a roller coaster ride, but with scientific value!

According to a recent study, this virtual driving assessment can predict your teen’s driving skills and highlight any potential problems. It measures over 100 skills, such as vehicle control, lane position, and ability to negotiate curves and intersections. It’s like having a personal driving instructor without the awkward small talk!

The assessment lasts for a fully immersive 15 minutes – imagine your teen sitting there with a steering wheel, pedals, and headphones, looking like a future NASCAR champion. They navigate through the virtual course on a computer screen and encounter unexpected hazards. It’s like a high-speed video game, but instead of chasing power-ups, they’re chasing safe driving skills.

At the end of the game, drivers receive a personalized report with tips on how to improve their driving skills. It’s like having a cheat code for real-life, except instead of unlimited lives, you get advice on parallel parking and merging onto highways.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – “Is this technology actually reliable?” Well, the study suggests that it is. And considering that the risk of crashes is highest among teens, this technology could be a game-changer. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teens have a higher crash risk than any other age group. It’s like they think they’re invincible superheroes, but without the capes and cool gadgets.

In the study, nearly 17,000 Ohio drivers under 25 took the virtual driving assessment, and some clear patterns emerged. Drivers who had “major issues with dangerous behavior” had an 11% higher crash risk in their first year with a license. So if your teen thinks it’s cool to drive like Vin Diesel in The Fast and the Furious, it might be time for a serious talk about road safety.

Interestingly, age played a role in crash risk too. Drivers who got their license at age 18 were 16% more likely to crash based on their performance in the video game. It’s like the game was giving them a premonition of their future driving skills. On the other hand, drivers who excelled at the video game had a crash risk that was about 10% lower than average. So basically, being good at virtual driving could mean a safer experience on the real road. It’s like training for a marathon by running endless laps in a virtual city.

But wait, there’s more! This study didn’t delve into how certain conditions like ADHD affect driving skills. But we already know that teens with ADHD have a higher risk of unconventional driving habits – speeding, not wearing seat belts, and potentially driving under the influence. It’s like they have a rebellious spirit that just can’t be tamed. Hopefully, future studies will explore the connection between ADHD and virtual driving skills.

Now, you might be wondering, “How can I access this virtual driving assessment? Can it help my own teenager?” Well, the lead study author, Elizabeth Walshe, believes it can be a useful resource for parents to determine if their child is ready to drive safely. So, if you’re concerned about your teen’s driving skills and want to coach them in the right direction, this technology could be your solution.

But remember, technology is not a replacement for real-life experiences. It’s important to have conversations about responsible driving, substance abuse, and avoiding distractions like smartphones. And let’s not forget that practice makes perfect. So, whether it’s through the virtual assessment or hands-on driving lessons, make sure your teens get the practice they need to become responsible drivers.

In the end, we all want our teens to stay safe on the road. It’s nerve-wracking to think about them behind the wheel, but with the help of virtual reality technology, we can gain insights into their driving skills and guide them towards responsible behavior. So, let’s embrace this new technological marvel and keep our future drivers on the right path.

More information

There’s more on teen driver safety at the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

SOURCES: Elizabeth Walshe, PhD, research scientist, program lead, Neuroscience of Driving Program, Center for Injury Research and Prevention, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Mark Zonfrillo, MD, pediatric emergency medicine physician, and professor, emergency medicine and pediatrics, Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, R.I.; Gabrina Dixon, MD, pediatric hospitalist, Children’s National Hospital, Washington, D.C.; Pediatrics, November 2023