Active Safety Technology and Teen Drivers: Impressions, Perceived Need, and Intervention Preferences

Principal Investigator: Eve Weiss, MS, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Thomas Seacrist, MBE, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Below is an executive summary of this project. Please note that this summary describes results and interpretation that may not be final. Final interpretation of results will be in the peer-reviewed literature.

Study methods included focus groups, in which teens shared their perspectives on how the advent of active safety technologies might affect their driving skills and behaviors, and, ultimately, their safety on the road.


From the advent of airbags to electronic stability control, technological advances introduced into automobile design have significantly reduced injury and death from motor vehicle crashes. These advances are especially pertinent among teen drivers, a population whose leading cause of death is motor vehicle crashes. Recently developed advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) have the potential to compensate for skill deficits and reduce overall crash risk. Yet, ADAS is only effective if drivers are willing to use it.


Limited research has been conducted on the suitability of ADAS for teen drivers. The goal of this study is to identify teen drivers' perceived need for ADAS, receptiveness to in-vehicle technology, and intervention preferences. The long-term goal is to understand public perceptions and barriers to ADAS use and to help determine how these systems must evolve to meet the needs of the riskiest driving populations.


Three focus groups (N=24) were conducted with licensed teen drivers aged 16-19 years, and two focus groups with parents of teen drivers (N = 12). Discussion topics included views on how ADAS might influence driving skills and behaviors; trust in technology; and data privacy. Discussions were transcribed; the team used conventional content analysis and open coding methods to identify 12 coding domains and code transcripts with NVivo 10. Inter Rater Reliability testing showed moderate to high Kappa Scores.


Overall, participants recognized potential benefits of ADAS, including improved safety and crash reduction. Teens suggested that ADAS is still developing and therefore has potential to malfunction. Many teens reported a greater trust in their own driving ability over vehicle technology. They expressed that novice drivers should learn to drive on non-ADAS-equipped cars and that ADAS should be considered a supplemental aid. Many teens felt that overreliance on ADAS may increase distracted driving or risky behaviors among teens. Parents also expressed skepticism for the technology but felt it would likely be a useful support for teen drivers after the initial learning phase.


This study elicited important end-user viewpoints by exploring the intersection between advanced automobile safety technology and human perception for the particular use case of teen drivers. For example, despite evidence that teens are the highest risk driving population, teens trust their own driving skills and competence more than in-vehicle technology. This understanding will ultimately advance the safety of teen drivers by identifying barriers to effective ADAS use.

Project Team Member

Megan Fisher-Thiel, MPH, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia


Chloe Hannan, West Chester University; Nahida Sultana, Drexel University; Benjamin Varone, The College of New Jersey

IAB Mentor

Melissa Miles, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company