The National Academies

BTSCRP BTS-33 [Active]

Optimizing Parent-Teen Supervised Drives to Reduce Teen Crash Risk

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Staff Responsibility: Richard A. Retting
Research Agency: University of Michigan
Principal Investigator: Jennifer Zakrajsek
Effective Date: 7/1/2024
Completion Date: 6/30/2027
Comments: Research underway


Teen drivers pose the greatest risk for motor vehicle crashes compared to any other age group. Motor vehicle crashes continue to be a leading cause of teen death, and crash risk for recently licensed teens is significantly higher than for other age groups.

Reducing the risk of teen driver crashes requires many countermeasures, including better preparing teens for driving before licensure. Previous studies have demonstrated parents' positive influence on teen driving behavior, from a higher likelihood of wearing their seatbelts to a lower instance of driving distracted or under the influence. Studies have also shown that teens who receive experience driving in various conditions (i.e., different road types, varying weather, new routes, etc.) during the permitting phase are safer drivers when licensed and driving independently.

More information is needed to demonstrate how to best prepare parents to optimize time spent behind the wheel with their teen drivers, and how best to ensure this time is completed. Some states require a signed driving log to be submitted with the license application, while others simply require the parent to sign an affidavit stating the driving hours were completed.

For the purpose of this project, “parent” includes guardians and other caregivers.


The objective of this research is to provide actionable information to help states optimize parent-teen supervised driving to ensure it creates safer teen drivers and reduces the crash risk for this vulnerable age group. The desired outcome will be to provide states (and ultimately, parents) with resources to help ensure that parent-teen supervised driving delivers on its intended goal.

STATUS: Research underway.

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