A “reality” drivers’ education program that included tours of the morgue and emergency rooms increased awareness among teens of the outcomes of risky driving, such as texting or talking on the phone, according to a study published Thursday.
Researchers were unable to determine whether the program had a long-term effect on youths behind the wheel, but the six-hour program held on one day in a hospital setting did increase participants’ awareness to the hazards of speeding, drunken driving and distracted driving, said lead author Beth A. Lanning, associate chair and associate professor of public health in Robbins College of Health and Human Science.
When it comes to teenage drivers, the number of crashes and crash deaths are disproportionately high in the U.S.
The fatal crash rate per mile driven for 16-19-year-olds is nearly three times the rate for drivers ages 20 and over, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety noted.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 2,333 teens in the U.S. aged 16–19 were killed and 235,845 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes in 2015, the most recent data was released.
There is a push to help youths learn to drive responsibly and defensively, which is why supplemental risk reduction programs that include a realistic experience are increasingly being offered through various institutions across the country.
The study, which appeared in the journal Transportation Research, focused on the Texas Reality Education for Drivers (RED) program, and included 21 teens referred by a court or school administrator for disciplinary action.
Researchers presented 21 participants in the study with questions on risky driving behaviors at the beginning of the RED program, then took them on a tour of hospital, where they interacted with health care staffers who had experienced crash victims first hand.
Lanning reported a change in perceptions at the end of the program, which supported the need for reality-based programs in driver’s ed.
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