New Software to Test Teen Drivers

By Drivers by Design, Inc., Special for USDR

Drivers by Design, Inc. is developing a software suite, called Desy, that lets driver education providers capture in near-real-time valuable student drive assessment data.

Every year, millions of people drive for the first time on public roads. Most of them are teens. Young drivers make up 6% of the 200 million plus licensed drivers in the US. Yet each year, young drivers account for 10% of fatal crashes and 13% of police-reported crashes.

To better prepare teens, many states mandate driver education before applying for a driver license. In Oregon, for example, driver ed programs require students to successfully complete at least 30 hours of classroom and 12 hours of in-car instruction — 6 hours behind-the-wheel (BTW) and 6 hours observing other student drivers.

In the past four years, Oregon took a leap in improving its driver education by developing the Oregon Playbook curriculum. These new materials have improved classroom instruction, but BTW instruction has remained largely unchanged. While the Playbook provides high-quality supplemental materials to support BTW instruction, current Oregon Department of Transportation policy allows driver ed providers to develop their own BTW lesson plans, route plans, and drive assessment forms.

This approach offers flexibility to the provider, but it also creates a problem: how to aggregate and standardize drive assessment data. At the conclusion of each BTW drive, an instructor documents a student’s performance using a hardcopy form (or, in some cases, a digital file saved to online storage). One copy is given to the student to take home for parent review, while another copy is filed by the provider.

After five years, these drive assessment records are destroyed. Valuable data that could have been used to evaluate BTW instruction are lost. The variability of the forms, their one-off nature, and the short-term retention of data all inhibit decision makers from leveraging the information to improve driver education.

Desy solves this problem by enhancing the way providers document and store BTW drive assessments. At the end of a drive lesson, an instructor conducts an assessment using the app on an in-car tablet with cell service. Once complete, the instructor submits the assessment wirelessly to a secure online database.

State governments are under increasing pressure to justify the tax dollars they spend on driver ed programs. Academic studies on the effectiveness of teen driver ed attempt to draw a meaningful correlation between the training students get and crash and citation data. Currently, though, studies only account for whether teens involved in a crash or cited for a traffic violation have or have not attended a state-certified driver ed course.

With Desy, driver ed providers and state administrators are able to analyze a wide array of targeted metrics. “The wealth of data that Desy provides,” Dr. Sean Miller said, “promises to show that teen driver ed programs can indeed produce safer drivers.”

About the Company

Based in Portland, Oregon, Drivers by Design, Inc. develops software solutions for driver education professionals.

SOURCE Drivers by Design, Inc.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.
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