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

BMC Public Health. 2014 Jul 31:14:777. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-14-777.


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.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / prevention & control*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Automobile Driving / education*
  • Communication*
  • Death
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Licensure
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Pamphlets
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parents / education*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Safety*

Associated data