"The teen that needs the most instruction gets the least because of ineffective parental and teen communication," says Fabiano.
Fabiano's study, which comes with a $36,000 grant from the UB 2020 Interdisciplinary Research Development Fund from UB's Office of the Vice President for Research, seeks to change that, all of it. Students and parents participating in the program first meet individually with a clinician to work on specific skill building related to effective communication and driving.
For the second part of the session, the teenager and parent take part in a joint activity. Often the teenager practices on the driving simulator while the parent, sitting in the passenger seat, practices a parenting skill. If the parent intends to work on noticing the child's positive behavior, the parent compliments the teenager's good driving skills. Each week the parent and teen also set up a contract to work on a specific behavior related to driving or another issue at home.
Throughout the sessions, those in the study (Fabiano says about 10 families will take part) face a state-of-the-art driving simulator that emphasizes what engineering researchers call an "authentic" highway experience.
The driving simulator comes complete with screeching noises when the driver speeds or turns too abruptly, deer crossings, slippery roads, a construction zone with hazards, horns and situations related to dealing with aggressive drivers. Drivers and passengers can hear the hum of the car engine or hear the revving noises as the engine accelerates. And since the computer program is based on actual local highways, the teenager/parent team can retrace the path on the actual streets featured on the driving simulator.
"Previously, our motion simulator used a generic passenger cabin which seated two people," said Kevin F. Hulme, research associate for the New York State Center for Engineering Design and I
|Contact: Charles Anzalone|
University at Buffalo