Association Between Executive Function and Problematic Adolescent Driving

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Abstract

Objective:

Motor vehicle collisions (MVCs) are one of the leading causes of injury and death for adolescents. Driving is a complex activity that is highly reliant on executive function (EF) to safely navigate through the environment. Little research has examined the efficacy of using self-reported EF measures for assessing adolescent driving risk. This study examined the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF) questionnaire and performance-based EF tasks as potential predictors of problematic driving outcomes in adolescents.

Methods:

Forty-six adolescent drivers completed the (1) BRIEF, (2) Trail Making Test, (3) Backwards Digit Span, and (4) self-report on 3 problematic driving outcomes: the number of times of having been pulled over by a police officer, the number of tickets issued, and the number of MVCs.

Results:

Greater self-reported difficulty with planning and organization was associated with greater odds of having a MVC, whereas inhibition difficulties were associated with greater odds of receiving a ticket. Greater self-reported difficulty across multiple BRIEF subscales was associated with greater odds of being pulled over.

Conclusion:

Overall findings indicated that the BRIEF, an ecological measure of EF, showed significant association with self-reported problematic driving outcomes in adolescents. No relationship was found between performance-based EF measures and self-reported driving outcomes. The BRIEF could offer unique and quick insight into problematic driving behavior and potentially be an indicator of driving risk in adolescent drivers during clinical evaluations.

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