BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo researcher Gregory A.
Fabiano has received the green light to continue using a
parent-teen therapeutic program and state-of-the-art driving
simulator to teach safe driving habits to a group of drivers at the
very top of the risk pool: teens with ADHD (attention deficit
At the same time, Fabiano will help improve these teen's
relationships with their parents -- thanks to a $2.8 million grant
from the NIH's National Institute of Child Health and Human
The grant-funded project -- a joint effort between Fabiano's
research team in UB's Graduate School of Education and UB's New
York State Center for Engineering Design and Industrial Innovation
-- will expand the researchers' work with teenagers with ADHD, a
pool of drivers that combine the inexperience of teenagers with a
tendency to be distracted.
"We know that 1 in 20 drivers on the road is someone with ADHD,
so on any given day, we are all likely to come across a driver who
is distracted or impulsive and paying attention to the wrong things
on the road," says Fabiano. "So working with these individuals who
have known risk-factors will have real public health benefits.
"Simply being a teen driver is one of the biggest risk factors
on the road, and adding in ADHD creates a perfect storm of
potential negative driving outcomes and crash and injury risk,"
adds Fabiano, a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award
for Scientists and Engineers, the nation's highest honor for
professionals at the early stages of their independent scientific
The five-year grant enables Fabiano and his team to keep using
UB's high-tech driving simulator when working with teens and their
parents. Developed and managed by co-investigators Kevin Hulme and
Kemper Lewis in UB's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences,
the simulator combines the authentic feel of a vehicle interior and
shell with computer-generated highways, hazardous intersections and
The grant will focus on ADHD teenage drivers with learner's
permits. And because teaching teens to drive often leads to
arguments between parent and child, Fabiano's work also aims to
build better communication and more harmonious relationships in a
setting that often pushes them further apart.
All drivers in the study will be randomly assigned to one of two
groups, Fabiano says. Drivers in all groups will get a driver's
education program (UB is partnering with the Automobile Club of
Western New York), practice on the driving simulator and be given
an onboard driving monitor to track driving behaviors, giving
parents and teens the chance to review their driving performance
Families in one of the groups will also receive the Supporting a
Teen's Effective Entry to the Roadway (STEER) program. Developed by
Fabiano, this program teaches parents and teens a more effective
way to negotiate issues, communicate more effectively and establish
behavior contracts that set contingencies for safe teen driving,
The other group will not receive the STEER instruction.
UB researchers will follow the progress of both groups and
measure driving behaviors, using a camera and recorder installed in
their cars, six and 12 months later when the teens are driving on
"We want to know if teaching parents strategies for monitoring
and dealing with teenage drivers, as well as teaching teens how to
comply with behavioral limits, results in better driving practice
and training," Fabiano says.
The grant also gives researchers the opportunity to teach teens
about risky situations on the road. For example, some simulator
activities will use special "fatal vision" goggles students can
wear in the simulator to give them a realistic idea of what driving
is like when intoxicated.
"We can use this grant as a preventative approach for teens to
show what can happen if they drink and drive," Fabiano says. "A lot
of teens think that this can never happen to them, and this is a
way to show them they are not immune to the effects of
Fabiano also will use the driving simulator to show teens how
quickly they can be in a tragic accident when using a cell phone or
"Greg continues to make substantial contributions to our
understanding on ADHD, research that makes a difference in everyday
life," says Mary H. Gresham, dean of the UB Graduate School of
Education. "He is exactly the type of faculty member that makes UB
a great university."
Parents and family members interested in learning more about
Fabiano's research can call his lab at 716-829-2244 ext. 124.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive
public university, a flagship institution in the State University
of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus.
UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests
through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional
degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a
member of the Association of American Universities.