ATRI-Developed Assessment Tool Shows Promise for Identifying Safe, Younger Drivers

Contact: Dan Murray
(651) 641-6162
August 4, 2021



Arlington, Virginia – The American Transportation Research Institute today released the results of the Phase 1 Beta Test of its Younger Driver Assessment Tool.  This is the second in a series of technical memoranda from ATRI exploring the potential for an assessment tool to identify the safest drivers among 18-20 year olds, a critical component of expanding interstate CDL eligibility to younger drivers.  Results from ATRI’s beta test show promise for the statistically validated assessment to differentiate safer drivers from less safe drivers.

ATRI’s beta test administered a comprehensive assessment battery to current commercial truck drivers.  Truck drivers who participated in the assessment represented a broad range of ages (20-60 years old), driving experience and safety performance.  Among the measures tested in the assessment were personality traits, reasoning, impulsivity, sensation-seeking, sleep quality, and cognitive control.  Participating drivers’ safety performance was evaluated using motor vehicle record and pre-employment screening program data on safety violations and crash involvement.

Among the statistically significant findings, the drivers in the safest group based on their MVR and PSP data had the highest scores on Conscientiousness and Agreeableness, and the lowest scores on Experience-Seeking.  Additionally, drivers in the “less safe” group exhibited marginally greater sensitivity to conflict in the Multi-Source Interference Task, indicating difficulties with cognitive control.  While ATRI’s beta test only included 16 drivers under the age of 30, the assessment did show sensitivity to age-related variations in performance.  The age sensitivity relationship to safety also materialized in older drivers with fewer years of experience, so the assessment tool is attempting to identify younger drivers with the cognitive and mental attributes of mature, experienced drivers.

“Given all the internal and external pressures on driver recruitment and retention, it is safe to say that the driver shortage crisis is not going away,” said Joyce Brenny, Brenny Transportation, Inc. CEO and Founder.  “We need to find ways to expand the pool of safe truck drivers, and ATRI’s preliminary research indicates that safe, younger drivers can be found.  At Brenny, our young driver apprentice program has a proven track record.  Proper training and mentoring of young individuals who want to become truck drivers does work!”

Based on the success of the beta test, ATRI is embarking on an expanded pilot test of the assessment to increase the sample of younger drivers and expand the range of participating driver safety performance.

For access to the full report please visit ATRI’s website here.

ATRI is the trucking industry’s 501c3 not-for-profit research organization. It is engaged in critical research relating to freight transportation’s essential role in maintaining a safe, secure and efficient transportation system.