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Building Technologies to Keep New Drivers Safe


Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among U.S. teenagers, accounting for approximately a third of all deaths among 15-19 year olds. Emerging technologies could play an important role in reducing teenagers’ risk of injury or death from crashes. Johnathon Ehsani, PhD and his team developed a custom-built smartphone application called the DrivingApp. The app, available for Android and iPhone smartphones, collects real-world driving behavior by measuring the time-stamped trip length, g-forces using the accelerometer and gyroscope sensors in user’s smartphones and the GPS coordinates of the device. 

Information from the app can be combined with publicly available data to further characterize the contexts of driving conditions that would include weather and lighting (dawn, day, dusk, night), road types, and speeding behavior. In-house algorithms have been developed to allow for additional characterization of driving behavior to include the diversity of unique routes traveled and an approximation of driver familiarity on these routes.  

The research team has remotely enrolled and collected data from teenage leaner drivers across the U.S. An initial pilot study incorporating driver reflections on an individual trip has been conducted. In future work, the app will be used to guide the diversity and quality of practice driving for learner drivers to improve driving safety. For more information, contact Johnathon Ehsani at