Transportation & Vehicle Safety Policy

Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



Naturalistic driving studies are the latest resource for gathering data associated with driver behavior. The University of Iowa has been studying teen driving using naturalistic methods since 2006. By instrumenting teen drivers’ vehicles with event-triggered video recorders (ETVR), we are able to record a 12-second video clip every time a vehicle exceeds a pre-set g-force threshold. Each of these video clips contains valuable data regarding the frequency and types of distractions present in vehicles driven by today’s young drivers.

The 16-year old drivers who participated in the study had a distraction present in nearly half of the events that were captured. While a lot of attention has been given to the distractions associated with technology in the vehicle (cell phones, navigation devices, entertainment systems, etc.), the most frequent type of distraction coded was the presence of teen passengers engaging in conversation (45%). Cognitive distractions, such as singing along with the radio, were the second most common distraction. Cell phone use was the third most common distraction, detected in only 10% of the events containing distraction.


teen driving, naturalistic driving studies, event-triggered video recorder (ETVR), driver distraction

Total Pages

36 pages, 13 figures, 4 tables

Granting or Sponsoring Agency

Federal Highway Administration

Grant Number



Sponsored by Federal Highway Administration TPF-5(207)

Issued by: Human Factors and Vehicle Safety Research Division, Public Policy Center, University of Iowa.

At head of title: Final report.

Includes bibliographical references.


Copyright © 2014 the authors