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Driving simulator useful in getting teens to focus

Ann Thompson
Nick Miller, Children's Senior Associate Media Relations, agreed to demonstrate the driving simulator.

It's no secret that teens don't get enough sleep on school nights, an estimated five to seven hours a night. They need nine. Researchers say not only does this affect their school work, it affects their driving.

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center is studying whether adding 90 minutes of sleep a night will  make them more alert and decrease accidents. The study involves driving a simulator and monitoring the mood of the teen while they do it.

Dr. Dean Beebe, director of the neurophysiology program at Children's, is studying 50 to 60 teens and hopes to have results sometime next year.

After you have the right amount of sleep, how do you teach drivers not to look away? Children’s Clinical Psychologist Dr. Jeff Epstein is studying teens with ADHD and its effect on driving.

“And so we have partnered with researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amhearst who have developed an intervention that uses a computerized interface to train teens with ADHD not to look away from the roadway and it has some warnings that it gives teens and really walks them through the process of how you do look away but do it in an effective manner so you are never look away for more than 1.6 seconds.”

Epstein  calls it time sharing and it can apply to even teens without ADHD. Research shows teens with ADHD have almost double the risk of being in a crash than teens who don’t. They are also training on the driving simulator. Epstein says the goal is to reduce the number of distractions while driving,