A research project at the University of Iowa shows video can help new teen drivers learn from their mistakes to become better drivers. Researcher Dan McGehee talked to the Iowa Transportation Commission this week about the study that put cameras and a special recording system in the cars of 25 teens.
McGehee says the device only triggers if the driver brakes or steers abruptly. He says the device can go back to stored video and pulls off a 20-second recording that includes 10 seconds before the event and 10 seconds after the event to give the driver the full context. McGehee says as part of the study they included a report card of sorts that explains what happened in the unsafe driving circumstances, and also shows the teen the video.
McGehee says they found among the riskiest drivers that frequently triggered the system, in just about nine weeks after the drivers got the report card they reduced their unsafe driving by almost 90-percent. "So, a pretty dramatic drop in safety related events in a short amount of time," McGehee says. McGehee says the video is able to confirm what safety experts have long said were dangerous situations and problems for teen drivers.
McGehee says. "One thing about this type of technology is that is very clear when it triggers, it is not very easy to trigger it. In fact we had quite a high rate of satisfaction among the teens because they felt that when it did trigger and then they saw the event that they indeed had braked too hard or steered to quickly around a corner and so forth. So they believed that sort of the thresholds we had sat were realistic in terms of them accepting what they did as a true safety-related event." McGehee says teens felt the system was a valuable teach tool that others could learn from.
He says 100-percent of the teens who participated in the Clear Creek Amana study recommended it to other teens. McGehee says this system that only triggers when there is a problem was viewed more a help than a restraint on the young drivers.
McGehee says they asked the teens if the system was an invasion of privacy, and 92-percent felt it was not. He says the teens felt it was a benefit because if you drive normally the video isn’t captured and you aren’t being watched all the time. McGehee says the device becomes a challenge to young drivers to work harder and pay closer attention so the system isn’t triggered. The study was funded by an insurance company and focused on teen drivers in rural areas. McGehee says another study is now underway in Minnesota that is testing the system with new teen drivers in an urban area.