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Distracted and Drowsy Driving Intervention for Teen Drivers in Rural America

Project #: 4W2461
Start Date: 07/01/2008
End Date: 07/31/2010
Status: Completed

There is compelling evidence to suggest that the risk of a fatal crash resulting from distracted and drowsy driving is highest among novice teen drivers in rural areas. There is growing interest in implementing enhanced driver education and safety programs for young drivers; however, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are only a few education curricula available that specifically address driver distraction and drowsiness. The courses that do exist provide limited education about methods to cope with these impairment conditions, and have not been evaluated for their impact on changing the driving behavior of the students. The State of Montana has been actively updating its driver education and training curriculum since 2002. One of the modules of the new curricula covers “Operator Fitness – Aggressive, Drowsy, Distracted, Alcohol, Drugs,” and is specifically designed to instruct novice teen drivers on the hazards of distracted and drowsy driving. This project provides an opportunity to study and quantify the impact of this module on the driving behavior of teens in a rural state. The study is designed to evaluate whether exposure to the training module has an effect on driving behavior and episodes of distracted and drowsy driving among a sample of students. Students will be randomly assigned to two groups (one that is exposed to the training module, and one that isn’t), and researchers will observe the students over time to assess short-term, long-term, and perseverance effects. Researchers will collect and analyze driving behavior data that is recorded by a remote system fitted to the participants’ vehicles.


The goal of this project is to test a driver education program on the hazards of distracted and drowsy driving, and to quantify its effects on the behavior of novice teen drivers in rural communities.


  • Nic Ward
    Nic Ward