Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of teen fatalities. Preliminary traffic-related 2012 fatality number so far are 379 deaths in Minnesota.

Teens represent about one third of that number each year, so helping to reduce the number of teen-related deaths is very important. In response, the University of Minnesota is partnering with MnDOT and is seeking to collect data to identify critical teen driver behaviors for future applications and interventions. The in-vehicle monitoring device (i.e. the provided smartphone) will allow researchers at the University of Minnesota to accurately and confidentially monitor teens’ driving behavior and potentially learn more about unsafe behaviors. The purpose of this project is to understand how technology may be used to improve teen driver safety and to enhance parental involvement with their teens during the learning phases of driving.

The University of Minnesota would like to recruit 20 teen drivers from Waseca who currently have their learner’s permit, will receive their provisional driver’s license between Feb. 1 and April 30 are age 16 at that time, and are able to begin the study within 1 month of their licensure start date. To participate in this study, parents (or guardians) and teens must provide consent. Teens are expected to drive the same vehicle (this can be a shared vehicle) at least two to four times per week (i.e., data collection equipment will only be installed in one vehicle). It is expected that teens will not drive another vehicle regularly during the study period except the vehicle which contains the data collection equipment.

As part of the study teens will be provided a free Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone and monthly data, text, and talk service plan for one year. The phone will remain the property of the teen once the study has ended; however, the family will be responsible for transferring the service plan to their own plan at the conclusion of the study if the teen/parent wants to continue phone service. Additionally, teens will receive a monthly $25 incentive at the end of the study totaling $300.

For more information, contact Nichole Morris at nlmorris@umn.edu or call 612-624-4614.

Customer Service Representative and Editorial Assistant for the Le Center Leader, Le Sueur News-Herald, St. Peter Herald and the Waseca County News.

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