The National Academies

BTSCRP BTS-28 [Pending]

Teen Driving Performance Associated with Distraction, ADHD, and Other Risk Factors

  Project Data
Funds: $200,000
Contract Time: 24 months
Staff Responsibility: Richard Retting


In recent years, distracted driving has become a growing traffic safety concern, particularly with young drivers due to limited driving experience and other factors. Young drivers with neurodevelopmental disabilities such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be at more risk for motor vehicle crashes due to behavior characteristics commonly associated with these conditions. In recent years, a growing body of research has examined driving risks for teens with autism and those with ADHD. Research has identified concerns about the driving skills of teenagers with ADHD, as well as an increased tendencies to become distracted while driving and drive at higher speeds. 

Determining the role of distracted driving in crashes is difficult and inexact for many reasons, including a general lack of evidence. Researchers have turned to observational methods to examine the prevalence and increased risk posed by non-driving-related tasks. Naturalistic studies, most notably the SHRP2 Naturalistic Driving Study (NDS), can objectively identify driver distraction behavior immediately before a crash or other event. SHRP2 NDS data provide an opportunity to address a number of questions related to teenagers and distracted driving:

·        Which potentially distracting driver behaviors are most common among teenage drivers?

·        Under what conditions do distracted driving behaviors most commonly occur?

·        Which distracted driver behaviors are most likely to contribute to crashes and near-crashes?

·        How does driver behavior change in presence of (teenage) passengers?

Naturalistic data also support analyses of how distracting behaviors by teen drivers─and their role in crash causation─change as these novices gain experience behind the wheel.


The objectives of this project are to: (1) gauge the association between confirmed incidences of distracting behaviors and inattention to the driving task by teen drivers with crash and near crash involvement, in relation to their incidence during baseline events; (2) determine whether these incidences contribute to crashes and near crashes, and if and how these relationships change with increasing driving experience; and (3) compare exposure-based crash and near crash involvement rates, and self-reported risky driving behaviors, for teen drivers with different levels of ADHD screen scores, taking into account the potential influence of other behavioral and demographic factors captured in NDS data.


The research plan should (1) include a kick-off teleconference with the research team and BTSCRP convened within 1 month of the contract’s execution; (2) address how the proposer intends to satisfy the project objectives; (3) be divided logically into detailed tasks necessary to fulfill the research objectives and include appropriate milestones and interim deliverables; and (4) incorporate opportunities for the project panel to review, comment on, and approve milestone deliverables. 

Accomplishment of the project objectives will require at least the following tasks.


Task 1. Identify appropriate variables that can be used to meet the research objectives, an analysis framework, and any limitations associated with obtaining or interpreting the data.

Task 2. Identify any additional datasets with the potential to complement the SHRP2 NDS data, along with their availability, limitations, and how data from multiple sources will be combined in the analysis to support the successful completion of the project, with budget limitations taken into consideration.   

Task 3. Obtain data and consider conducting a preliminary analysis to validate the data sources, variables, and analysis approach. Determine the total number of teen drivers in the NDS and any other data sources, and the number of teen drivers identified in these data sources as exhibiting positive indications of ADHD. If a preliminary analysis is conducted, modify data sources and analysis approach, if needed, based on preliminary results, and provide a detailed description of the revised approach.

Task 4. Prepare an interim report that summarizes results from Task 1 through 3.



Task 5. Conduct analysis as approved by the panel.

Task 6. Organize and conduct a webinar in the TRB webinar series to inform traffic safety professionals of the study design and research results.

Task 7. Prepare outreach materials to increase awareness among the public and traffic safety professionals of the research results. Proposers can suggest additional implementation activities to increase awareness.

Task 8. Prepare a final deliverable that documents the entire research effort. Final deliverables should include: (1) a final research report documenting the entire research effort and findings; (2) outreach materials; (3) prioritized recommendations for future research; (4) presentation material; and (5) a technical memorandum on implementation. 


STATUS: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP.  The project panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.


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