AbstractIn the United States, motor vehicle crashes are the leading reason of fatalities for young drivers in the age group of 16–19 years. This paper used naturalistic driving study (NDS) data to examine the safety of young drivers. The NDS data consist of comprehensive information related to driving behavior. The statistical modeling method (logistic regression) was used to investigate the relationship between factors of driver attention such as secondary tasks, impairments, hands on wheel, and crash risk to aid in the formulation of teen driving policy. The results indicated that nondriving tasks engagement such as cell phone use, external distraction, food and drink intake, personal hygiene, and reaching and handling objects in the vehicle increase the possibility of involvement in a safety critical event [odds ratio (OR)=1.67–1.93]. Risk estimation for the observable impairments indicated that emotional state of the driver (OR=6.01) and impairments (drugs/alcohol, OR=5.02) exerted greater influence on crash likelihood compared to involvement in secondary tasks. The study revealed that not all secondary tasks pose the same risk. Transportation agencies can design behavioral countermeasures targeted at young drivers to help increase driver attention. Countermeasures such as increased enforcement, treatment and monitoring of the offender, and education and outreach programs for teenagers may help alleviate impaired driving.

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