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winter 08
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Center for the Study of Young Drivers aids in national research and policy development

Young drivers have higher crash rates than adult drivers. In 2006, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill established the Center for the Study of Young Drivers (CSYD) within the UNC Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC) to study and improve the safety of young drivers. CYSD's focus is on developing a fundamental understanding of the multitude of factors that contribute to the high crash rate among young drivers.

"We are working on a number of projects that are helping to set the national agenda for young driver research," said Dr. Rob Foss, director of the Center for the Study of Young Drivers. "This is an important, and to date a largely neglected, issue. We are proud to be helping lead the way on efforts by the scientific community to understand the confluence of issues that cause young driver crash rates to be so high."

CSYD has helped promote a more scientific approach to studying and improving young driver behavior than has been the case in the past. At the urging of CSYD, and with CSYD input, a new subcommittee of the Transportation Research Board was created to address young drivers. The subcommittee, which includes leading researchers in the field, will promote efforts to address cutting edge research concerns.

The TRB subcommittee is currently organizing a workshop in which research experts will attempt to develop a young driver research agenda for the next several years, pointing to the most important research needs to address. This is meant to guide both the decisions that funding agencies make and, more generally, the public discussion about young driver issues, drawing attention to important matters and diverting it away from a variety of misconceptions about young drivers.

Additionally, two HSRC researchers, Dr. Rob Foss and Arthur Goodwin, will be leading discussions at the annual LifeSavers Traffic Safety Conference on some of CSYD's recent projects, including young driver cell phone use and a project that looks at parental efforts to help their teens learn to drive.

CSYD contributions can also be seen in the recent publication of the Guide to Reducing Collisions Involving Young Drivers, one of the several guides created under the Transportation Research Board's National Cooperative Highway Research Program Project 500. As part of AASHTO's Strategic Highway Safety Plan that was originally developed in 1998, these guides are intended to assist state and local agencies in reducing injuries and fatalities in targeted areas by providing information on policies and programs that have been shown to reduce crashes.

For more information on young driver research, visit http://www.csyd.unc.edu/index.html.

The University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center
730 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Suite 300  |  Campus Box 3430  |  Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3430
Phone: 919.962.2203  |  Fax: 919.962.8710