Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Launches Innovative Virtual Teen Driving Assessment Program with $4 Million Grant from NJM Insurance Group

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Teen using virtual driving assessment system Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) today announced an innovative new partnership with NJM Insurance Group (NJM), a leading auto insurer and teen driver safety advocate in the Mid-Atlantic region. The collaboration is aimed at preparing teenagers to drive safely. The $4 million grant from NJM will help kick off a new young driver program in the summer of 2021 that will offer a state-of-the-art virtual driving assessment system (VDAS) at select CHOP Primary Care locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The program will be fully implemented at most CHOP Care Network sites over the next four years.

“This program is the first-of-its-kind in the world and will be an exciting opportunity for novice drivers to participate in engaging, interactive virtual driving and assessment in preparation for safe driving,” said Dr. Flaura Winston, founder and Scientific Director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at CHOP. “Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of adolescent mortality in the United States. With the support of NJM in this critical project, we can advance safety for novice teenage drivers and help reshape pediatric care for our teenage patients.”

The implementation of the VDAS program is a collaboration among CHOP Care Network Operations, CIRP, and The Possibilities Project at CHOP. Co-led by Dr. Lisa Biggs, Associate Chief Medical Officer at CHOP, and Dr. Alex Fiks, Director of the Center for Clinical Pediatric Clinical Effectiveness at CHOP, The Possibilities Project is re-imagining the way CHOP delivers primary care. “This new collaboration is taking medicine beyond its traditional walls to improve teen health with a focus on driving,” said Dr. Biggs. “Our adolescent patients and their families turn to us for all other areas of health and wellness. With the virtual driving assessment, we can help them to successfully and safely navigate through early driving.”

“From improving workplace conditions to protect employees, to keeping drivers safe on the road, NJM’s focus on safety can be traced back to our earliest days,” said Mitch Livingston, NJM President and CEO. “In 2017, NJM expanded its award-winning teen driving safety program to include Share the Keys, a research-based, data-driven program designed to reduce teen driver crash risks through increased parental involvement. Research conducted by CHOP’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention set the foundation for Share the Keys. NJM’s support of CHOP and the VDAS program is a natural progression to our commitment as a safety focused insurer and continues NJM’s legacy of supporting the communities we are privileged to serve. We are excited to partner with CHOP on this effort.”

“Providing teen drivers and their parents with the tools needed to make better choices behind the wheel is critically important,” said Violet Marrero, NJM Consumer Safety Director. “This project will help transform the way young adults are prepared to drive and serves as a robust complement to the Share the Keys program and our efforts to help teen drivers develop safe habits during their formative years.  We are thrilled to join with CHOP in contributing to a culture of safety.”

Research shows that more than 75% of novice driver crashes are due to driver error. “Offering the virtual driving assessment system in a primary care setting will help us meet the needs of adolescent drivers before they drive alone and provide critical insights that could reduce their chance of crashing,” said Dr. Fiks. “In a risk-free virtual driving environment, teen drivers will be able to learn how well they can manage common hazards associated with crashes and receive customized, real-time feedback to improve the critical proactive and responsive skills that will help them gain confidence and drive more safely once they are actually on the road.”

The VDAS will utilize the Ready-Assess™ software developed by Diagnostic Driving, Inc., a CHOP spin-out with a mission to fill the roads with safer drivers. As a self-directed and office-based assessment, Ready-Assess™ safely exposes drivers to common and serious crash scenarios to measure crash-avoidance skills. At the end of the assessment, teens (and their families) receive high-quality and credible feedback on their crash-avoidance skills. The software was initially piloted and validated with over 40,000 driver license applicants in a partnership with the Ohio Department of Public Safety and is now integrated in the state’s driver education and training program.

The program is currently available to adolescent patients at five CHOP Primary Care locations in Pennsylvania: Flourtown, CHOP’s Philadelphia Campus, Chadds Ford, West Grove, and Cobbs Creek, as well as one site in Somers Point, New Jersey.

Contact: Jennifer Lee, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 267-426-6084 or