Driving Analytics: Comparison of Teen and Adult Naturalistic Car-following Patterns

Principal Investigator: Helen Loeb, PhD, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia


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


Motor vehicle crash (MVC) rates for teen and adult drivers are traditionally based upon fatal crashes, police-reported crashes, and estimated miles driven (EMD). Yet, nearly 30 percent of all crashes–particularly those that do not result in injury or death–are not reported to police. Teen drivers are much more likely to crash than adults; according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in 2014 the risk of MVCs per miles driven was nearly three times greater among 16- to 19-year-olds than among any other age group.

Naturalistic driving studies offer a unique opportunity to measure crash rates inclusive of all crashes, not only those reported to police, and to provide an exact quantification of miles driven among study participants. In this study, investigators used the Strategic Highway Research Program 2 (SHRP2), a large-scale naturalistic driving database administered by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, to study motor vehicle crashes. Over 3,000 volunteer drivers had their vehicles fitted with cameras, radar, and other sensors to capture data as they drove.

For this project, investigators analyzed 353 crashes involving 549 novice 16- to 19-year-old drivers and 185 crashes involving 591 experienced 35- to 54-year-old drivers.

Scene videos were reviewed for all events to identify rear-end crashes, and dynamic variables, such as acceleration and velocity, were analyzed for rear-end events. The investigators compared rear-end crash rates, crash severity, and impact velocity between novice teen drivers and experienced adult drivers. The teen group crash rate was more than seven times higher than the adult group, with 12.8 rear-end crashes occurring per 1 million miles driven for novice teens compared to 1.8 rear-end crashes occurring per 1 million miles driven for experienced adult drivers.

Further analysis of the SHRP2 dataset is needed to determine why novice teens experience rear-end crashes at such a high rate as compared to experienced adult drivers. To our knowledge, this is the first study to compare rear-end crash rates between teens and adults using a large-scale naturalistic driving database. This new knowledge of drivers’ reactions in emergency situations will help manufacturers design Active Safety systems, such as Forward Collision Warnings or Brake Assist systems, such as Dynamic Brake Support and Crash Imminent Brake systems, to address the braking deficits of newly licensed teen drivers.


This analysis used logged SHRP2 data of 1,000 actual motor vehicle crashes and near
crashes to understand in depth why teen drivers crash.


Project Team Members: Aditya Belwadi, PhD, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Thomas Seacrist, MBE, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Students: Abhiti Prabahar, The University of Pennsylvania; Sam Chamberlain, Drexel University; James Megariotis, Drexel University; David McDonnell, Drexel University

IAB Mentors: Doug Longhitano, American Honda Motor Co., Inc.; Anthony Rossetto, FCA US LLC; MaryAnn Beebe, General Motors Holdings LLC; Dan Glaser, General Motors Holdings LLC; Melissa Miles, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company 

About This Center

This Center is made possible through a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) which unites CHOP, University of Pennsylvania, and The Ohio State University researchers with R&D leaders in the automotive and insurance industries to translate research findings into tangible innovations in safety technology and public education programs.

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