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UB driver simulation study targets high-risk teenage drivers
Date:12/11/2008

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Using the bells and whistles of a state-of-the-art entertainment arcade, a University at Buffalo Graduate School of Education project aims to improve the driving habits of teenagers at the very top of the risk pool, and at the same time bring child and parent together for a happier, better functioning family.

The population identified as risky drivers: teenagers with ADHD or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The method: a high-tech and newly improved driving simulation program complete with real sounds and computer-generated highways based on actual streets and busy intersections around UB's North (Amherst) Campus.

The innovation researchers believe will make the study more authentic and effective: While keeping many of the flashy attractions of the old driving simulator, the new setting is the actual front half of a real car. When the teenagers and their parents participating in the study climb into the shell of the Ford 1999 Contour, they can't help but feel they're actually driving, not putting tokens into a multiplex arcade game.

"It has been long known that teenage drivers are the most at risk for just about every negative driving outcome you can imagine -- moving violations, accidents, accidents with injury/death, drunk driving -- it goes on and on," says Gregory A. Fabiano, assistant professor in the Department of Counseling, School and Educational Psychology in UB's Graduate School of Education, and lead investigator for the project. "Recent research has shown that a teenager with ADHD is significantly more at risk than this already highly at-risk group."

The effect ADHD has on already at-risk drivers makes sense logically, Fabiano says. Impulsive behavior and inattention to the task at hand -- both common symptoms of teens with ADHD -- run contrary to the caution and continuous focus needed to be a safe driver. When ADHD teens get behind the wheel to learn to drive, it's often a recipe for an acrimoni
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Contact: Charles Anzalone
anzalon@buffalo.edu
716-645-5000 x1412
University at Buffalo
Source:Eurekalert

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