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Executive Function Capacities, Negative Driving Behavior and Crashes in Young Drivers

Annenberg Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
Center for Injury Research and Prevention, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(11), 1314;
Received: 6 September 2017 / Revised: 11 October 2017 / Accepted: 25 October 2017 / Published: 28 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Injury Prevention 2017)
PDF [332 KB, uploaded 28 October 2017]


Motor vehicle crashes remain a leading cause of injury and death in adolescents, with teen drivers three times more likely to be in a fatal crash when compared to adults. One potential contributing risk factor is the ongoing development of executive functioning with maturation of the frontal lobe through adolescence and into early adulthood. Atypical development resulting in poor or impaired executive functioning (as in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) has been associated with risky driving and crash outcomes. However, executive function broadly encompasses a number of capacities and domains (e.g., working memory, inhibition, set-shifting). In this review, we examine the role of various executive function sub-processes in adolescent driver behavior and crash rates. We summarize the state of methods for measuring executive control and driving outcomes and highlight the great heterogeneity in tools with seemingly contradictory findings. Lastly, we offer some suggestions for improved methods and practical ways to compensate for the effects of poor executive function (such as in-vehicle assisted driving devices). Given the key role that executive function plays in safe driving, this review points to an urgent need for systematic research to inform development of more effective training and interventions for safe driving among adolescents. View Full-Text
Keywords: executive function; cognitive control; adolescents; young drivers; driving behavior; motor vehicle crashes executive function; cognitive control; adolescents; young drivers; driving behavior; motor vehicle crashes
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Walshe, E.A.; Ward McIntosh, C.; Romer, D.; Winston, F.K. Executive Function Capacities, Negative Driving Behavior and Crashes in Young Drivers. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 1314.

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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health EISSN 1660-4601 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
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