Teens in the Driver Seat (TDS) is a peer-to-peer traffic safety program for youth. The program has been in Nebraska High Schools since the 2013-2014 school year. Members of a TDS program at a school engage in many activities to promote safe driving. One of the activities that youth leaders in the program complete is administering the Nebraska Teen Driving Experiences Survey to their peers.
The Nebraska Teen Driving Experiences survey captures a broad array of behaviors and attitudes related to driving. The current survey instrument has now been implemented for four consecutive years. Over these four years, between 12 and 19 TDS schools have collected surveys. A total of seven schools have collected surveys in all four years since the 2013-2014 school year.
This report presents trends from the Nebraska Teen Driving Experiences Survey from those seven schools that have collected surveys over the past four years. The schools are: Centura, Chambers, Gering, Howells-Dodge, Lincoln Southwest, Malcolm, and Norfolk.
Overall, the four-year trends of the Nebraska Teen Driving Experiences Survey are positive. Of the 17 risky behaviors captured by the survey, all but one showed at least a slight improvement, with six showing statistically significant improvements. After four years of involvement with the program, there appear to be meaningful changes occurring.
One of the more positive changes seen over the past four years is the improvement in seat belt use. There has been a moderate improvement in wearing a seat belt while driving and a significant improvement in wearing a seat belt while riding in a car. Nevertheless, 33.1% of respondents reporting driving without a seat belt and 50.1% reported riding without a seat belt at least once in the past month in this most recent survey administration.
The percentage of youth violating the GDL provisions of driving with two or more teen passengers without anyone over 21 in the vehicle and driving past midnight without anyone over 21 in the vehicle have declined significantly since 2014-2015 to 2017-2018. These declines may be due to the work of the DHHS Injury Prevention Program and its targeted activities around GDL. Nevertheless, in this most recent survey administration, 68.4% of those with a provisional operator’s permit reported driving with two more teen passengers without anyone over 21 in the vehicle and nearly half (48.5%) reported driving after midnight without anyone over 21 in the vehicle in the past month.
There has also been a statistically significant decline in speeding 10 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit. But again, over half (57.4%) still reported engaging in this behavior in 2017-2018.
Despite the significant declines, these behaviors still continue to be reported at rather alarming rates. In addition, another concern includes the fact that there has continually been a relatively low rate of youth identifying seat belt use, speeding, and nighttime driving as risky teen driving behaviors. The indicator “almost fell asleep while driving” is the only indicator to show an increase (i.e., “get worse”) over 2014-2015.
Overall, the areas of improvement show positive signs, despite the fact that risky driving behaviors continue to be prevalent. Teens in the Driver Seat is known to be evidence-based, therefore we reasonably expect to see more improvement in these survey results as the program continues to be implemented in high schools throughout the state.