Novice teen drivers are overrepresented in vehicle crashes compared to more experienced drivers, and research suggests this is in part because teens are more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors while driving. In a project sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, researchers from the HumanFIRST Program at the University of Minnesota's ITS Institute and the private research company Westat have created a prototype system called the Safe Teen Car System to help teens develop safer driving habits.
The Safe Teen Car System is intended as a potential built-in option to be offered by automakers to make vehicles safer for teens. The system implements a combination of several existing safety concepts. It also utilizes the advanced computer intelligence of today's vehicles to provide young, novice drivers with information tailored to their needs and behaviors.
The Safe Teen Car System, which is active only when the vehicle determines the driver is a teen, has a number of important features to identify risky driving behaviors. The system monitors known risk factors for teen drivers, including speed, excessive maneuvers, cell phone use, seat belt use, and passenger presence. When crash risk factors are detected, the system provides real-time auditory and visual feedback and adaptation strategies to the driver. The system also interprets driving context.