A multiyear assessment of a hospital-school program to promote teen motor vehicle safety

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BACKGROUNDMotor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teen drivers. The main goal of this program was to reduce texting while driving among high school teens through a unique peer-generated anti-texting campaign.METHODSThe program consisted of two phases. In phase 1, student leaders participated in a half-day, hospital-based experiential program that emphasized safe teen driving. In phase 2, these students conceptualized and implemented an anti-texting while driving campaign during the school year. The program enrolled 32 schools with 137 student participants in phase 1.This study uses a prospective quasi-experimental pre-post design. A presurvey and a follow-up online survey were used. Response rate was 81%. In phase 2, two rounds of observations of drivers were made near the participating schools at the beginning and end of the phase 2 campaign. The results were analyzed using proportion tests.RESULTSThere was a strong belief (6.49 on a seven-point scale) that texting while driving could result in a crash. About 58% had texted while driving in the previous 7 days in the pre-survey. This proportion decreased significantly to 44% in the follow-up (p < 0.05). Knowledge of Tennessee Graduated Driver Licensing laws and feeling of empowerment to take action with a teen driver who was texting improved significantly (p < 0.05). In phase 2, 12,309 drivers (adults and teens) were observed in the first round, and 13,153 were observed in the second round of observations. Significant reduction in the proportion of drivers texting while driving (from 13% to 9%; p < 0.0001) was observed.CONCLUSIONResults of driver observations support the effectiveness of this program in meeting the key objective of reducing texting while driving. The program also influenced teenagers' willingness to take positive steps when faced with a driver who was texting. Future efforts should aim to influence social and peer norms.LEVEL OF EVIDENCETherapeutic study, level III.

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