Evaluating Community Programs

Communities are frequently interested in programs they can implement to improve teen driver safety. Unfortunately, most programs have not been shown to produce the benefit we want them to. The goal of teen driver programs is to reduce crashes. Evaluations are designed to determine whether they are doing this. It’s not enough for a program to be liked, exciting, or interesting. If it doesn’t produce the intended effect, it needs to be revised or replaced with something that does reduce crashes or injuries. Otherwise valuable resources are being wasted.

Doing your own evaluation can be daunting, requiring time, money and special expertise. The Center for the Study of Young Drivers (CSYD) can assist community partners in doing an evaluation. This assistance ranges from:

  • Helping to find resources in your own community – perhaps a local college or university – that might help conduct an evaluation
  • Designing an evaluation plan you can implement
  • Analyzing data you have collected
  • Doing a full scale evaluation for you

The following are examples of some of our recent efforts to assist communities and program developers with evaluation:

StreetSafe is a weekend, hands-on driving course designed to alert teenagers to the risks of distracted driving, driving too fast and a variety of other behaviors. It is offered in several counties throughout North Carolina and adjacent states. CSYD researchers have worked with StreetSafe to fine-tune their program activities and are currently doing a formal evaluation of the program in Orange County, to measure the effect of the program on young driver behaviors and crash rates.

Safe Teens Think First (STTF) is a Cleveland County program to increase teen driver safety. Since 2005 it has been delivered to nearly all high school students who take Driver Education. We recently worked with a team of graduate students from the University of North Carolina School of Public Health on a year-long project to design and conduct an evaluation of STTF. Findings were provided to STTF leaders along with suggestions for fine-tuning the program to enhance its effectiveness. We continue to work with program leaders as they refine and update STTF.

Johnston County Parent Program. Unlike other counties in North Carolina, Johnston County requires parents and teens to attend a meeting before the start of each driver education session. In consultation with Johnston County School District, CSYD researchers are in the process of measuring the effects of this program on parent and teen behaviors.

Eastern Carolina Injury Prevention Program Consultation (ECIPP). CSYD researchers met with leaders and staff of the ECIPP to do a “conceptual evaluation” and discuss ways they can fine tune, align and enhance the many programs they conduct to reduce teen driver crashes and injuries.