CHOP Looking for Participants for Virtual Reality Study

The Research Institute at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is looking for teens and adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to participate in a research study using virtual reality.

The purpose of this research study is to test whether new virtual reality technology and interactive gaming applications can help to improve social skills in teens and adults with ASD.  Any teen over 12 or adult with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is eligible to participate.  Participants will be asked to make one to three visits to CHOP, wear virtual reality headsets and play interactive games, and complete questionnaires.  Participants will be compensated.

If you are interested in participating in the study or want to learn more, please contact Ashley Zitter at CHOP by email or by phone at (267) 426-4971.

What Researchers Say About Graduated Driver Licensing

Graduated driver licensing has grown more popular here in the US over the past two decades, beginning with Florida in 1996.  Today, every state uses some form of graduated licensing for its novice drivers.  Now that these programs have been around for a while, what is the latest science saying about their effectiveness?

A 2016 study has found that 16-year-olds make fewer driving trips and drive fewer miles than they did prior to the introduction of GDL laws.  The number of trips for 17-year-olds did not decrease, but the overall trip miles did. 1   This results makes sense, given the fact that many states are withholding full driving privileges until later ages, often 17 or 18 years old.  They also reported that 91% of adolescents did not feel inconvenienced by the night-time restrictions imposed by GDL laws.

Another 2016 study examined night-time crashes involving adolescent drivers, and found that, of those adolescents who were involved in night-time driving crashes, 57% of these happened between 9:00PM and midnight. 2   As the GDL night driving restrictions of many states are set to begin at 12:00AM, the researchers suggested a possible benefit to limiting night driving in earlier hours.  Pennsylvania’s night driving restriction begins at 11:00PM, but includes exemptions for activities including school, work and charity.  Pennsylvania currently requires only ten hours of supervised practice in night-time driving.  While this is the bare minimum for licensure, additional training in night driving could be an important factor in reducing these crashes.

Zhu M, Cummings P, Zhao S, Rice T. The association between graduated driver licensing laws and travel behaviors among adolescents: an analysis of US National Household Travel Surveys. BMC Public Health. 2016;16(1). doi: 10.1186/s12889-016-3206-7
Shults RA, Williams AF. Graduated Driver Licensing Night Driving Restrictions and Drivers Aged 16 or 17 Years Involved in Fatal Night Crashes — United States, 2009–2014. MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2016;65(29):725-730. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6529a1

A question about skid marks

Here is a question I received and answered on the now-defunct website

Are skid marks darkest at the end or beginning? And can you determine the tread from the tread marks? My daughter was in an accident and the cop cited her even though from his pictures it looks like the skid marks are in the opposite direction, and she never even applied her breaks because her car died on impact. If they are the darkest at the end that would prove they are not hers, Besides the fact they curve the opposite direction that her vehicle traveled. I asked about the tread marks because she has a very unique tire tread and blowing up the photos show they don’t match her tread.

Continue reading A question about skid marks

Do I legally need a driver’s license?

Here is a question I received and answered on the now-defunct website

I read title 18 section 31 and it clearly says that a motor vehicle is for commercial purposes. Like for a truck driver that is carrying goods, passengers, or a cab driver that is getting money. Now what I don’t understand is why the state I’m from requires me to get a license when is not for commercial use. Why is that?

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Lane Changes and Mirrors

Here is a question I received and answered on the now-defunct website

I recently got my drivers license that now allows me to drive alone. I’m still a bit nervous with certain things like changing lanes and left hand turns. When changing lanes how should the cars appear in my mirrors to let me know I have enough space without cutting them off? Someone told me if I can see their head lights in my rear mirror I have enough room, is this correct? I always check my blind spot as well but changing lanes really gives me bad nerves. Any advice is appreciated!

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How Can I Become A More Confident Driver?

Here is a question I received and answered on the now-defunct website

I got my drivers license at the end of June and I’m still a very nervous driver, I prefer to have someone in the car with me and I’m quite nervous to drive alone. I’m pretty nervous with changing lanes and left hand turns, although I’m getting a bit better with those things I would prefer to be fully confident. How long does it take to become a fully confident driver? I still find myself making mistakes and feeling badly about my driving skills because of it, for instance I was coming to a stop light and I didn’t realize how fast I was going and I had to stop a bit harder than usual, (mind you I’m more concious about that now) but the person in the car with me (who’s been driving for 45 years) yelled at me because of it and it really shook me up and upset me. What can I do to overcome this fear and anxiety with driving? Thank you in advance.

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Best Way To Improve Gas Mileage?

Here is a question I received and answered on the now-defunct website

I had read in a book for better gas mileage and better tire wear that a person could look on the side wall of the tire and note the maximum tire pressure for maximum full load and then inflate the tires to that pressure when they are cold or unused for 4 hours. Naturally in snowy conditions you should drive slower. What is your opinion?

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Why Am I Nervous About Driving?

Here is a question I received and answered on the now-defunct website

How can I stop worrying about every little thing while driving? Every time I drive and hear any noise, I think that I might have hit something. How can I stop feeling this way?

Let’s start by asking the question, “Why are you worrying so much when you drive?” There could be a number of causes.  Let’s try the next three questions.

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Correct Hand Position?

Here is a question I received and answered on the now-defunct website

My daughter is learning how to drive. Her hand position is 8 and 4. I asked her driving teacher, we used to 10 & 2 or 9 & 2. The teacher says it is for airbag safety. Do you like their saying for now a day.

So, yes, the official recommendations for hand position have changed over time.  Up until the early 1990’s, the standard was to keep your hands at 10 and 2.  But starting around 1992, airbags became standard equipment, and the steering wheels actually got smaller (next time you see a vintage car in a parking lot, take a look at how huge the steering wheel is compared with a newer car).   Continue reading Correct Hand Position?

What Hand Signals?

Here is a question I received and answered on the now-defunct website

I am 35 and have been driving for nearly 20 years and so don’t remember my driver’s test. It was brought to my attention today that there are hand signals people are supposed to know if ever there signals don’t work? Honestly never had that issue as I take care of my vehicle and don’t remember that on driver’s test either. That’s an actual thing? I mean if someone was waving an arm out the window like a crazy person I would make a point to let them do whatever they want.

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