Arrive Alive: Stop the Texts, Stop the Wrecks

PI: Despina Stavrinos

Funding Sponsors: United States Department of Transportation – Nation Center for Transportation Systems and Management (NCTSPM); U-Haul, Inc.

u-haul-logo Description: This work involves the next phase of a previously piloted distracted driving education program hosted by U-Haul International, Inc., Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (“Arrive Alive: Stop the Texts, Stop the Wrecks”). Provisional pilot study findings suggested that a one-day distracted driving event targeting young drivers may be successful in changing the attitudes and behaviors of this at-risk group of drivers. The work is conducted in collaboration with one of the nation’s leading transportation based companies, U-Haul International, Inc., and tests whether provisional findings translate to high school students, a group of drivers that account for approximately 1 in 3 deaths due to motor vehicle collisions (MVCs). This study is among the first to objectively measure whether a one-day educational program is efficacious in changing young driver’s attitudes and behaviors towards distracted driving.

Status: Data collection from March – May 2015

Publications and Presentations:

Stavrinos, D., *McManus, B. (2015, March). Private industry partnerships for transportation-based educational initiatives: distracted driving education with U-Haul International, Inc. Presented at the 2015 University Transportation Center (UTC) Conference for the Southeastern Region. Birmingham, AL.


Stavrinos, D., McManus, B. (March, 2016). A school-based intervention to promote safe adolescent attitudes towards distracted driving. Accepted for a symposium presentation at the 2016 Society for Research on Adolescence Biennial Meeting. Baltimore, MD.


Stavrinos, D., McManus, B. (March, 2016). Effects of a simulator-based training intervention on young drivers’ attitudes towards distracted driving. Accepted for a symposium presentation at the 2016 UTC Conference for the Southeastern Region. Knoxville, TN.

Research on Autism and Driving (ROADS)

PI:Dr. Despina Stavrinos
CoPI:Haley Johnson Bishop

Haley April 2016

Abstract:The leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults is motor vehicle collisions. Adolescents are at a high safety risk due to a number of factors including inexperience and incomplete brain development. These risks are even more prominent for novice drivers with developmental disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) because of additional impairments in processing speed, executive functioning, social communication and emotional regulation. Despite their elevated safety risk, little research has been done to better understand the driving capabilities of the increasingly more common population of drivers with ASD. The goals of this study are to characterize the driving performance and hazard perception of drivers with ASD, as well as investigating impairments in social skills as one possible mechanism that may affect driving performance. Drivers with ASD, a clinical control group of drivers with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and group of typically developing drivers will be asked to drive in a simulator where they will encounter a series of hazards classified as either social (e.g., human element involved such as pedestrians and cyclists) or non-social (e.g., non-human element involved such as roadway obstacles and other cars where no human driver can be seen). An assessment battery targeting social capabilities will be used to identify social impairment as a potential underlying mechanism of driving performance. Five indicators of overall driving performance will be recorded by the driving simulator: (1) root mean square (RMS) or standard deviation of lane position, (2) reaction time, (3) motor vehicle collisions, (4) speed fluctuation, and (5) number of speed exceedances. Response to hazards will be measured by examining the number of driving errors (e.g., greater RMS, slower reaction times, more motor vehicle collisions, and increased speed exceedances) surrounding the hazards presented in the driving scenario. Findings may allow future studies to target weaknesses in various abilities and develop driver training programs specific to the needs of this vulnerable population.

Status: Data collection from October 2014 – October 2016

Publications and Presentations:

*Nolin, S., *McManus, B., Stavrinos, D. (2015, May). Increased anxiety and physiological response to stress while driving in individuals with developmental disabilities. Poster accepted for presentation at the 27th Annual Meeting of the Association for Psychological Science. New York, NY.


*Johnson [Bishop], H. & Stavrinos, D. (2015, April). Examining the driving performance of individuals with and without Autism Spectrum Disorders. Poster presented at the 2015 Simpson-Ramsey Conference, Birmingham, AL. [First place prize in student competition]


*Johnson [Bishop], H., *Mosley, P., & Stavrinos, D. (2015, February). Examining the driving performance of individuals with and without autism spectrum disorders. Poster presented at the 14th Annual Alabama Autism Conference. Tuscaloosa, AL.


*Johnson [Bishop], H., O’Kelley, S., & Stavrinos, D. (2015, January). Presence and severity of autism symptoms in individuals with and without ADHD. Poster presented at the 7th Annual Southeast Regional ADHD Conference. Orange Beach, AL.


*Nolin, S., *McManus, B., *Johnson, H., *Mosley, P., & Stavrinos, D. (2015, January). The effects of stress and anxiety on driving performance in drivers with ADHD and ASD. Poster presented at the 7th Annual Southeast Regional ADHD Conference. Orange Beach, AL.


*Johnson [Bishop], H.D., Stavrinos, D. (2016, March). Driving performance and hazard perception in adolescent with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Symposium presentation at the 2016 Society for Research on Adolescence Biennial Meeting. Baltimore, MD.


*Bishop, H.J., Stavrinos, D. (2016, January). Social skills deficits in adolescents with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Poster presented at the 8th Annual Southeast Regional ADHD Conference. Orange Beach, AL.


*Bishop, H.J., Stavrinos, D. (2016, January). Evaluating driving performance of adolescents and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders around social and non-social hazards. Presented at 95th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board. Washington, DC.


*Johnson [Bishop], H., Stavrinos, D. (2015, October). Examining the driving performance of individuals with and without Autism Spectrum Disorders. Poster presented at the 2015 Graduate Student Research Exchange. Birmingham, AL. [First place prize in student competition]


*Johnson [Bishop], H., *Mosley, P., *McManus, B., *Wittig, S., & Stavrinos, D. (2015, October). Slower social hazard reaction time in teen drivers with and without ADHD. Presented at the 2015 Road Safety & Simulation International Conference. Orlando, FL.

Cognitive Research Using Innovative Simulated Environments (CRUISE)

PI: Despina Stavrinos
Funding: Alabama Department of Transportation

Description: Motor vehicle collisions (MVCs) are one of the leading causes of death for Alabamians across the lifespan. This study will use a new state-of-the-art high fidelity driving simulator, which will provide a hands-on, full-scale educational and research driving simulation experience for participants by examining the impact of roadway and driver factors on motor vehicle collisions in 100 at-risk drivers. Individual difference factors will also be examined to predict risky driving behavior under varying roadway conditions.

This study will be the first to use the new Honda Pilot driving simulator.

Status: Data Analysis

Driving After Injury in Teens (DART)

Page Under Construction!

Simulated Driving Assessments for Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury (SAFTI)

Page Under Construction

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