Online driving program to reduce teen fatalities
In 2010, seven teens, between the ages of 16 and 19, died every day from motor vehicle injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC also reports that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. A new intervention program presented as part of a study at the late October American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition hopes to change that.
The program, a collaboration between AAP and Pediatric Research Office Settings (PROS), was part of a pediatric intervention study. From the results, the study authors created a training plan, promotional materials and a new web-based safe driving program for parents of teen drivers called Checkpoints, maintained by the AAP.
Checkpoints offers resources and teen driving stats that help parents keep their teens safe. Resources include state-specific driving laws and an interactive feature that helps parents create their own parent-teen driving agreement with such components as driving hours, number of teen passengers allowed in the car and other guidelines that can be changed over time.
“I think this program and other similar teen risk prevention programs are excellent. They are a great way to reach teens who are web-based learners. Merely discussing it with them has limited effectiveness,” says Dr. Charles Nozicka, medical director of pediatric emergency medicine at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill.
More than 100 pediatricians completed training and participated in the program from March 2012 to July 2013. Doctors spoke to families with teens of driving age, delivering a 2-minute intervention and handing out key chains with the Checkpoints website address printed on them. The program reached almost 4,000 parents, resulting in more than 2,000 website visits.
Dr. Nozicka says, “The AAP encourages risk-taking behavior as well as media awareness as areas that pediatricians should discuss with teens and their parents at check-ups. These programs are a great way to get teen buy-in.”
“I lecture to teacher, parent and teen distracted and impaired driving groups and often encourage participants to utilize these web sites,” he adds.
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