Developing Driver Skills Examination and Scoring Guidance for Evaluating and Predicting High Safety Risk Drivers

In the United States, the on-road driving skills examination represents a “gateway” from the learner phase of driving to licensure and independent, unsupervised driving. While novices may acquire driving experience in a number of different ways (e.g., formal driver training classes, practicing with a parent or friend, or self-taught), all drivers must pass a skills examination before obtaining their driver license. Ideally, the skills examination should be designed to reliably and consistently identify those driver who pose a high safety risk and need to obtain more driving experience before they are licensed and allowed to drive independently. According to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) guidelines, two applicants with the same skill level should receive the same road test scores. Potentially high safety risk drivers are being passed with the same score as potentially lower safety risk drivers. For example, Washington State and other states use non-cumulative scoring, or scoring a maximum deduction for a single driver error even if that error is repeated multiple times. Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and AAMVA have called for evaluations of driver skills testing and scoring. The intent would be to identify pre-licensure drivers that present a potential higher safety risk and develop a risk profile for use by the novice and others (e.g., parents and driver instructors) to guide practice in both the pre- and post-licensure stages.  States need testing and scoring guidance and best practices that identify novice drivers who pose high safety risks. The objective of this research is to develop guidance and methods for driver skills examination and scoring that identifies high safety risk drivers, regardless of automobile technology, and applicable in all U.S. jurisdictions. Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. The BTSCRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective. The research plan should delineate the tasks required to develop guidance and methods necessary to accomplish the research objective. At a minimum, the tasks should address the following: (1) Document and critique the current driver skills examination and scoring methodologies used by states; (2) Review and summarize the driver skills examination and scoring methodologies used by countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); (3) Identify a range of fundamental driving skill sets (e.g., situational and self-awareness, space and speed management, vehicle control, decision making) regardless of automobile technology, and in all geographies; (4) Map the relationship between the fundamental driving skill sets and the identification of low vs. high safety risk drivers, and provide a rationale that identifies how the skill sets are necessary for safe driving; (5) Develop a model driving skills examination process that includes evaluation of fundamental driving skill sets, scoring criteria and protocols, examiner scoring methodology, route selection criteria, and procedures for examination administration; (6) Pilot test the model driving skills examination process and scoring protocols in at least one state. Washington State Department of Licensing is willing to participate in a pilot, evaluate the research products, and consider alternative approaches to evaluating and scoring; (7) Propose approaches to measure the effectiveness of the model driving skills examination and scoring protocols for identifying high safety risk drivers; and (8) Identify the barriers to or adverse impacts from the adoption of the model driving skills examination and scoring methodology.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $650000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project BTS-16

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Behavioral Traffic Safety Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Governors Highway Safety Association

    444 N. Capitol Street, NW, Suite 722
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, D.C.  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Retting, Richard

  • Start Date: 20210713
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01744480
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project BTS-16
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: Jun 29 2020 3:06PM