Steering teens safe: A randomized trial of a parent-based intervention to improve safe teen driving

Corinne Peek-Asa, Joseph E. Cavanaugh, Jingzhen Yang, Vidya Chande, Tracy Young, Marizen Ramirez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, and parent-based interventions are a promising approach. We assess the effectiveness of Steering Teens Safe, a parent-focused program to increase safe teen driving. Methods. Steering Teens Safe aimed to improve parental communication with teens about safe driving using motivational interviewing techniques in conjunction with 19 safe driving lessons. A randomized controlled trial involved 145 parent-teen dyads (70 intervention and 75 control). Intervention parents received a 45-minute session to learn the program with four follow-up phone sessions, a DVD, and a workbook. Control parents received a standard brochure about safe driving. Scores were developed to measure teen-reported quantity and quality of parental communication about safe driving. The main outcome measure was a previously validated Risky Driving Score reported by teens. Because the Score was highly skewed, a generalized linear model based on a gamma distribution was used for analysis. Results: Intervention teens ranked their parent's success in talking about driving safety higher than control teens (p = 0.035) and reported that their parents talked about more topics (non-significant difference). The Risky Driving Score was 21% lower in intervention compared to control teens (85% CI = 0.60, 1.00). Interaction between communication quantity and the intervention was examined. Intervention teens who reported more successful communication had a 42% lower Risky Driving Score (95% CI = 0.37, 0.94) than control parents with less successful communication. Conclusions: This program had a positive although not strong effect, and it may hold the most promise in partnership with other programs, such as Driver's Education or Graduated Driver's License policies. Trial registration. NCT01014923. Registered Nov. 16, 2009.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number777
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 31 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Driving safety
  • Parent communication
  • Road traffic

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