ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Transportation Research Institute Wednesday released the phase one findings of research investigating the potential for developing a Younger Driver Assessment Tool, one that would identify younger drivers who exhibit many of the same characteristics as safe, older commercial drivers.
To assess the feasibility of identifying safe younger drivers, ATRI reviewed existing scientific literature on driver characteristics and the associated safety outcomes.
This report summarizes the psychology literature on early adulthood, and how characteristics of this age group relate to driving safety.
The research was conducted in conjunction with Dr. Monica Luciana, Professor of Psychology at the University of Minnesota.
Individual traits that can reliably predict driver safety outcomes — personality, health, and cognition — are identified and discussed in this latest ATRI report.
The next phase of ATRI's research will involve assembling relevant measures of the identified predictive factors and conducting a beta test of the Assessment Tool on a small sample of both veteran and entry-level drivers. Results of the beta test will determine if a larger scale study is warranted.
“The potential to screen for the safest candidates among younger new entrants is an exciting step in the industry's workforce expansion. We look forward to working with ATRI in the development and testing of the Younger Driver Assessment Tool," said Greg Koepel, vice president, workforce development and administration, Roehl Transport.
According to the ATRI report, young drivers (18 to 25 years of age) represent a largely untapped age group for the trucking industry, primarily the result of federal regulations that require an individual to be 21 years of age before they can obtain a CDL to operate across state lines.
Therefore, individuals interested in becoming a truck driver before the age of 21 are restricted to operating intrastate — which may limit job opportunities and earning potential. As a result, drivers 20 to 24 years of age represent approximately 5 percent of individuals employed in the truck transportation sector, while for all industries this age group comprises 9.8 percent of employees.
As a group, the 18- to 25-year age group is characterized by elevated risk when compared to older age groups, the report pointed out.
Underlying factors of this heightened risk include immature cognitive function, a tendency to impulsively approach sources of pleasure, and high risk-taking behavior rates that are often associated with preventable negative consequences.
While the 18- to 25-year age group is high-risk as a whole, there are likely to be individuals within this age group who are more similar to safe, experienced drivers than their peers, according to ATRI.
ATRI is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit research organization. It is engaged in critical research relating to freight transportation's essential role in maintaining a safe, secure and efficient transportation system.
Visit ATRI's website at TruckingResearch.org to see more ATRI research.