Effects of Defensive Vehicle Handling Training on Novice Driver Safety: A Case Study in Lewistown, Montana (Phase 2)

Primary Investigator Contact Information

Laura Stanley

External Project Contact(s)

Sue Sillick
  • Montana Department of Transportation, Research Bureau
  • 2701 Prospect Avenue
  • Helena, Montana 59620-1001
  • 406-444-7693
  • ssillick@mt.gov


  1. Effects of Defensive Vehicle Handling Training on Novice Driver Safety: Phase 2. Advanced Driver Training
    1. Michael Kelly, Laura Stanley
    2. 4W0434_Final_Report.pdf

Project Objective

WTI has begun a controlled study designed to validate training in advanced vehicle handling for young, teenaged drivers through a specially designed course on situation awareness, visual skills, decision making, and vehicle handling.

Project Abstract

Research shows that drivers under age 19 have a crash rate four times that of the general driving population with the highest accident rate experienced within two years of receiving the driver’s license. Therefore, it could be assumed there is a decrease in crash rates with experience. WTI has begun a controlled study designed to validate training in advanced vehicle handling for novice drivers. In the first of three phases, accident records for young Montana drivers have been analyzed and a defensive driving curriculum has been designed to address the most common risks. In phase two, the current project, WTI and the Office of Public Instruction have recruited approximately four hundred young drivers in central Montana to take part in the actual presentation of training to the young drivers. Of the teens who are graduates of school-sponsored driver education, half will receive an intervention approximately six months after they take driver education. The intervention involves a one-day classroom and behind-the-wheel workshop. Most of the day will be involved in training students in the key habits that address the greatest number of driving crashes teens in Montana experience. Communications will be provided to parents and teens at the time of recruitment and just prior to the workshop, with a tailored communication at the end of the training that outlines the key issues which each individual student needs to continue to work on, with suggestions to parents on how to help the student. All students will complete a survey of demographic and driving experience information. In Phase three all the teens will be tracked for four years following the project to determine the driving history comparisons of the control group to those who received the intervention. Reported accident, violations and driving experience will be compared.

Task Descriptions

  1. Present Advanced Driving Training to Teens
    1. A workshop/training event will involve an 8 – 10 hour day. The workshop will provide a combination classroom and in-vehicle training. At the beginning of the day participants will be tested on driving knowledge and skills. The instructors will then provide driving exercises to address any skills deficiencies demonstrated by individuals. At the conclusion of the workshop another test will explore the young drivers’ new skill level and they will receive a tailored communication suggesting approaches for continued improvement.

Milestones, Dates, Schedule

Start Date:5/15/2005
End Date:10/31/2005

Student Involvement


Relationship to Other Research Projects


Technology Transfer Activities


Transportation Research Board Keywords

Advanced driver training, novice drivers


Montana Department of Transportation