Newswise — In new research presented at the HFES 2017 International Annual Meeting, a team of human factors/ergonomics researchers discussed how a supplemental Web-based driver training approach using realistic scenarios and visual effects could help reduce the risks associated with teen driving.
“Teen drivers are more likely to be involved in accidents, primarily because of their inexperience and developmental factors,” says Yi-Ching Lee, an assistant professor of psychology at George Mason University. “Providing a safe and realistic environment to learn driving skills and accumulate experience is important in helping them to master critical vehicle maneuvers and management skills.”
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting an average of six teens ages 16-19 killed each day. More than half of these accidents are caused by factors such as speeding and inattention, and the risk of death more than doubles as the number of peer passengers in the car increases to three or more. Skills beyond the basics covered in traditional driver training, such as how to manage distracting passengers, are typically acquired only through experience.
Lee and coauthors Noelle LaVoie and James Parker designed two online training programs - speed management and peer passenger training - aimed at pre-drivers and teen student drivers. In the first program, a series of videos shot from the driver’s point of view was digitally manipulated to represent various driving speeds. Twelve teens, ages 14-17, watched the videos and first estimated the vehicle speed, then adjusted it to a target speed using the computer keyboard, and, finally, adjusted the vehicle to a safe speed based on environmental conditions (rainy streets, for example). In the second program, eight pairs of friends ages 16-17 worked to safely navigate through an animated driving environment while avoiding routine driving hazards (e.g., pedestrians).
Overall, both sets of participants reported that the scenarios were useful, beneficial, and preferable to traditional classroom-based methods. Furthermore, they said they would recommend the programs to their friends. The programs enable teens to practice critical driving skills in a safe environment and reinforce behaviors they normally would learn only from many hours of on-the-road experience.
“We should provide ample learning and practice opportunities to help teens become safe and responsible drivers,” Lee adds. “Parents, driving schools, and driving instructors should use effective and validated training tools to help teens learn speed management, driving with peer passengers, and other critical driving skills.”
To receive a copy of “Teen Drivers: Approach for Teaching Speed Management and Peer Passenger Interactions” for media-reporting purposes, contact HFES Communications Director Lois Smith (310/394-1811, [email protected]).


The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society is the world’s largest scientific association for human factors/ergonomics professionals, with more than 4,500 members globally. HFES members include psychologists and other scientists, designers, and engineers, all of whom have a common interest in designing systems and equipment to be safe and effective for the people who operate and maintain them. “Human Factors and Ergonomics: People-Friendly Design Through Science and Engineering.”