Teen Driving Performance Associated with Distraction, ADHD, and Other Risk Factors

Distracted driving has become a growing concern over the past few decades with the advent of smartphones and other technologies that have the potential to divert attention from the task of driving. However, the contribution of distracted driving to crashes is not well established. It can be challenging for an officer to determine whether a driver was distracted at the time of crash. For that reason, it is widely believed that distractions are underreported in crash records. Given the limitations of crash data, researchers have turned to observational methods to examine the prevalence and increased risk posed by non-driving-related tasks. Naturalistic studies, most notably the SHRP2 NDS, can objectively identify driver distraction behavior immediately before a crash or other event. The SHRP2 NDS data provide an opportunity to address a number of questions related to teenagers and distracted driving: Which potentially distracting driver behaviors are most common among teenage drivers? Under what conditions do distracted driving behaviors most commonly occur? Which distracted driver behaviors are most likely to contribute to crashes and near-crashes? How does driver behavior change in presence of (teenage) passengers? These naturalistic data also support analyses of how distracting behaviors by teen drivers – and their role in crash causation – change as these novices gain experience behind the wheel. Furthermore, young drivers with developmental disabilities may be at increased risk for crashes due to impairments commonly associated these conditions. In recent years, a growing body of research has examined driving risks for teens on the autism spectrum, including those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Specifically, research suggests teenagers with ADHD display a number of decrements in driving skill and are more likely to engage in distracted driving and to drive at higher speeds. The first objective of this research is to gauge the association between confirmed incidences of distracting behaviors and inattention to the driving task by teen drivers with crash and near crash involvement, in relation to their incidence during baseline events; and to determine whether these incidences contribute to crashes and near crashes, and if and how these relationships change with increasing driving experience. Such confirmation is to be provided via SHRP2 NDS video coder entries for each trip segment in an Event – whether it is a crash, near crash, or baseline event – that includes up to three driver behaviors (including distraction) and up to three secondary tasks that identify what the driver was distracted by. A second objective of this research is to compare exposure-based crash and near crash involvement rates as well as self-reported risky driving behaviors for teen drivers with higher versus lower ADHD screen scores, taking into account the potential influence of other behavioral and demographic factors captured in NDS data. SHRP2 NDS participants completed Barkley’s ADHD Screening Test, which operationalizes ADHD symptoms in terms of specific behaviors, during study enrollment. The sum across all six items on this questionnaire indicates whether an individual may have ADHD (a sum of 7 or greater indicates possible ADHD). To meet the present objective, teen participants may be grouped dichotomously, contrasted according to highest versus lowest quartiles, or otherwise as researchers deem appropriate. Risky driving behaviors may be gauged via the Risk Taking Questionnaire; sleep habits, caffeine intake, tobacco and alcohol use, occupation, work habits, and presence of children in the home via the Sleep Habits Questionnaire; and sensory stimulation preferences via the Sensation Seeking Scale Survey. Additional factors to be considered include, but are not limited to, prescribed medications, and demographic factors such as age, gender, education, race, ethnicity, household status (two- or one-parent or live alone), household income, and work status.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $200000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project BTS-28

  • 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: 20221129
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01851882
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project BTS-28
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: Jul 19 2022 12:47PM