CHOP's new virtual driving assessment program aims to prepare teens for the road

CHOP's new virtual driving assessment program aims to prepare teens for the road

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is kicking off a new young driver program this summer to better prepare teenagers for driving safely.

Studies show that more than 95% of novice driver crashes are due to driver error. In 2018, 2,121 people were killed in crashes involving a teen driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

This summer, the virtual driving assessment system will be available at select CHOP Primary Care locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey through a $4 million from from NJM Insurance Group. The plan is for the program to be fully implemented at most CHOP Care Network sites over the next four years.

"This program is the first-of-its-kind in the world and will be an exciting opportunity for novice drivers to participate in engaging, interactive virtual driving and assessment in preparation for safe driving," said Dr. Flaura Winston, founder and scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at CHOP.

"Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of adolescent mortality in the United States. With the support of NJM in this critical project, we can advance safety for novice teenage drivers and help reshape pediatric care for our teenage patients."

The virtual driving assessment program is a collaboration among CHOP Care Network, the Center for Injury Research and Prevention and the Possibilities Project, which re-imagines the way CHOP delivers primary care.

"This new collaboration is taking medicine beyond its traditional walls to improve teen health with a focus on driving," said Dr. Lisa Biggs, associate chief medical officer at CHOP. "Our adolescent patients and their families turn to us for all other areas of health and wellness. With the virtual driving assessment, we can help them to successfully and safely navigate through early driving."

"In a risk-free virtual driving environment, teen drivers will be able to learn how well they can manage common hazards associated with crashes and receive customized, real-time feedback to improve the critical proactive and responsive skills that will help them gain confidence and drive more safely once they are actually on the road," explained Dr. Alex Fiks, director of the Center for Clinical Pediatric Clinical Effectiveness at CHOP.

NJM Insurance Group is also a strong advocate of teen driving safety. The auto insurer has its own teen driving safety program, which includes Share the Keys, an initiative aimed to increase parental involvement. Share the Keys was designed based on research conducted by CHOP's Center for Injury Research.

"Providing teen drivers and their parents with the tools needed to make better choices behind the wheel is critically important," said NJM Consumer Safety Director Violet Marrero.

"This project will help transform the way young adults are prepared to drive and serves as a robust compliment to the Share the Keys program and our efforts to help teen drivers develop safe habits during their formative years," she added.

The virtual driving assessment system uses Ready-Assess software developed by Diagnostic Driving, Inc., a Philadelphia-based technology company spun-off from CHOP. The software was validated with over 40,000 driver's license applicants in partnership with theOhio Department of Public Safety and is now integrated in the state’s driver education and training program.

The virtual driving assessment program is now available to teenage patients at five CHOP Primary Care locations in Pennsylvania: Flourtown, CHOP’s Philadelphia campus, Chadds Ford, West Grove and Cobbs Creek. Also one site in Somers Point, N.J., as well.