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Driving Skills at Licensure and Time to First Crash

Cover of the journal Pediatrics, November 2023 edition. BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES

Young drivers are overrepresented in crashes, and newly licensed drivers are at high risk, particularly in the months immediately post-licensure. Using a virtual driving assessment (VDA) implemented in the licensing workflow in Ohio, this study examined how driving skills measured at the time of licensure contribute to crash risk post-licensure in newly licensed young drivers.


This study examined 16 914 young drivers (<25 years of age) in Ohio who completed the VDA at the time of licensure and their subsequent police-reported crash records. By using the outcome of time to first crash, a Cox proportional hazard model was used to estimate the risk of a crash during the follow-up period as a function of VDA Driving Class (and Skill Cluster) membership.


The best performing No Issues Driving Class had a crash risk 10% lower than average (95% confidence interval [CI] 13% to 6%), whereas the Major Issues with Dangerous Behavior Class had a crash risk 11% higher than average (95% CI 1% to 22%). These results withstood adjusting for covariates (age, sex, and tract-level socioeconomic status indicators). At the same time, drivers licensed at age 18 had a crash risk 16% higher than average (95% CI 6% to 27%).


This population-level study reveals that driving skills measured at the time of licensure are a predictor of crashes early in licensure, paving the way for better prediction models and targeted, personalized interventions. The authors of future studies should explore time- and exposure-varying risks.