There are numerous programs focused on making teens safer drivers, but one in particular has caught the eye of insurers in 49 states. ADEPT Driver’s teenSMART® program is a computer-based training program that uses neurocognitive training to improve crash avoidance skills in teenage drivers. The program has been vetted independently by dozens of insurance actuaries over a 15-year period and repeatedly has been found to reduce driver crashes and the severity of crashes. These studies show reductions in teen crash rates that range from 23-35 percent. The program is approved for insurance discounts in 49 states.
More than 30,000 teens received teenSMART training in 2014, and over 400,000 teens have been trained nationally since 2000. Based on the average crash rate reduction of 30 percent, ADEPT estimates that in 2014, teenSMART prevented 1,980 teen crashes, 1,027 injury crashes, saved 6.6 lives, resulted in 25-40 percent fewer insurance claims for teens 16-18 years of age and have saved parents and teens between $300 - $400 annually on insurance premiums.
The program was developed using a medical and behavioral science model to develop and validate effective treatments, which were then evaluated in field studies. ADEPT conceptualized car crashes as a treatable behavioral disorder, starting with epidemiology studies to determine the cause of the crashes, followed by validated content and empirically based treatments. Then, ADEPT conducted developmental evaluations to determine learning effectiveness and retention of learning. Finally, third party insurance companies and others conducted field trials to determine crash outcomes and severity of crashes. The end result was a targeted neurocognitive approach to improving a driver’s crash avoidance skills. This technique has been used successfully in sports psychology to improve the performance of athletes.
There are three core elements to the training program: computer-based driving tutorials (CBTs); parent-teen materials and activities; and a certification test to pass the program. The CBTs are completed on a teen’s home computer, where the teen is asked to demonstrate specific driving skills and is given immediate, interactive feedback. Parent-teen activities include informational videos, workbook exercises and in-car driving sessions conducted under parental supervision. Finally, a certification test is administered, comprising multiple choice knowledge questions and driving simulations similar to the training exercises. Teens receive an ADEPT Driver certification once they pass the test and upload test results to the online ADEPT Driver software tool.
In 2012, ADEPT received the Teen Driving Safety Leadership Award from the National Safety Council for its efforts in reducing teen car crashes. The Miles Ahead driving school at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway partners with ADEPT to provide teenSMART to the teens that attend their MINI Teen Motoring School. In 2014, Mercedes-Benz became the first partner to offer a completely customized version of teenSMART to its Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy students. ADEPT has also partnered with Impact Teen Drivers to use teenSMART for parents and teens they reach through their teen driver safety awareness campaigns.
With demonstrated results, a focus on risk awareness and financial incentives in the form of insurance discounts that encourage participation, teenSMART is making a significant impact in making the road safer for all.