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Online Program Helps Parents Teach Teens to Drive

Update Date: Jun 24, 2014 10:49 AM EDT

A lot of teenagers first learn how to drive from their parents. Even though parents "always know best," they might not be the greatest driving instructors. In order to help parents better teach their teens, researchers created an online program. According to the researchers, the program was effective in improving the likelihood that a teen will pass his/her driving test.

"Parents aren't professional driving instructors - they're professional parents," said Jessica Mirman, a developmental psychologist from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "And though they've been driving for a while and may have a good grasp on what to teach, they may not necessarily know how to teach it."

In the program, named TeenDrivingPlan, parents learn different methods that they can use while supervising the driving lessons. For example, in one of the lessons, parents learn how to teach children to turn and merge into traffic by watching short training videos. Parents can also track their teens' progress and plan driving sessions through the program.

"Helping parents understand their role in modeling safe behavior is important, as is having good guidance to parents on how to best help our teens mature into safe drivers," Corinne Peek-Asa, associate dean for research at the University of Iowa's College of Public Health, said reported by Philly.

In the study, the researchers recruited 151 teens that had already gotten their learner's permit. They all had less than five hours of driving experience at the start of the study. The teens' parents were divided into two groups, the program group and the control group. Parents in the TeenDrivingPlan watched around 132 minutes of training video sessions over the time span of 24 weeks.

After the program ended, the researchers set up driving tests for all of the participants. They found that teens whose parents used the program were 65 percent more likely to pass the on-road driving test in comparison to teens whose parents did not use the program. The failing rates for the program and control group were six percent and 15 percent respectively.

"Inexperience is the major crash contributing factor for teens," Anne McCartt from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, who was not a part of the study, said according to NPR. "TDP showed that when families used it, they could increase their teen's skills before getting their license

The study, "Effect of the Teen Driving Plan on the Driving Performance of Teenagers Before Licensure," was published in JAMA Pediatrics.

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