“The fact is for teen drivers, in the United States for example, one third of the reason why adolescents die is road traffic injury. So if you have something that’s that big of an epidemic, why aren’t we doing more?”
So said CHOP Research’s Flaura Winston, MD, PhD, speaking to Ireland’s national broadcaster RTE Radio. Doing her part to prevent teen accidents, Dr. Winston visited the Emerald Isle recently for a series of meetings on driving safety at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI).
Dr. Winston took part in two meetings at the RCPI, the first a conference on driving safety and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), alcohol, drug use, and psychiatric issues. She then led a panel of experts in a public discussion of preventing accidents among young drivers. And last but certainly not least, she took the time to contribute to RTE Radio’s “Drivetime” afternoon show.
“The thing that’s important with teens is they don’t need to be scared away with crashes,” Dr. Winston said on “Drivetime.” “What they need is skill. What they need is experience.”
Founder and scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention, Dr. Winston is an internationally recognized car safety expert who has published extensively on teen driving and driving safety. Recent studies include an Evidence-Based Mental Health investigation of the effect ADHD medication has on driving, and an Injury Prevention study of a simulated driving assessment tool.
At the RCPI, Dr. Winston gave a keynote speech to healthcare professionals on ADHD and driving, then gave a public talk on preventing teen crashes, effective use of child restraints, and medical trauma associated with crashes. She also found time to talk to RTE’s “Drivetime” about a range of teen driving-related topics.
After telling the program’s host Mary Wilson that many people assume crashes are simply part teen drivers’ experience, she noted “we can prevent these crashes.” For example, Dr. Winston said, while 20 percent of teen drivers have accidents, 80 percent don’t. So what, she asked, can we learn from those who don’t get into accidents?
For example, “driver education begins when the child is in a forward-facing car seat,” Dr. Winston said, as children pick up their parents’ driving behavior. And whether they turn out to be safe drivers is also dependent on how much time parents put into teens’ “supervised practice period,” Dr. Winston noted.
“Think about how much time you spend teaching your child to play football,” Dr. Winston said. “Think about how time you spend with your time with your child in their music lessons, or their math lessons. And then think about how time you’re spending and the variety in which you’re doing your practice driving.”
After all, she pointed out, safe driving is “a complex skill.”
To listen to Dr. Winston’s entire interview, check out RTE Radio (start at 01:42:10).