A new study has highlighted the safety benefits of having a virtual driving assessment as part of the driver’s licensing process in the United States.

Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of adolescent death and injury in the U.S., with the peak risk immediately after obtaining a driver’s license.

Researchers from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center investigated a program in Ohio which uses virtual technology to expose drivers to the most common serious potential crash scenarios under safe simulated conditions.

The program has been implemented by CHOP, the State of Ohio, and Diagnostic Driving, Inc., a CHOP spin-out company.

Based on 4,643 paired virtual driving assessments and on-road test results conducted by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (OBMV), researchers found that the technology was not only valid, feasible and efficient, but also advanced safe driving, with applicants receiving personalized automated feedback to identify their safety-critical skill deficits.

“The success of these partnerships demonstrates the effectiveness of the innovative work being done to keep children safe,” said Flaura K. Winston, MD, PhD, founder and scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at CHOP, one of the founders of Diagnostic Driving, Inc., and co-author of the analysis.

“We believe the work we have done in Ohio could serve as a foundational model for the future of driving safety, where personalized virtual assessments beyond the on-road examinations are a gold standard in preparing adolescents prior to obtaining their licenses.”