NJM gives $4M grant to assist program aimed at improving teen driving

NJM Insurance Group has given a $4 million grant to help start a program aimed at preparing teenagers to drive safely.

The grant, awarded to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 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 at select CHOP Primary Care locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Program officials say it will be fully implemented at most CHOP Care Network sites over the next four years.

Flaura Winston, founder and scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at CHOP, said the program is the first of its kind.

The virtual driving assessment system. (NJM Insurance Group)

“It will be an exciting opportunity for novice drivers to participate in engaging, interactive virtual driving and assessment in preparation for safe driving,” she said. “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 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 New Jersey location — Somers Point.

NJM CEO Mitch Livingston said the insurer is eager to participate in the program — one of many safe-driving efforts it undertakes.

“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,” he said. “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.”

The implementation of the VDAS program is a collaboration among CHOP Care Network Operations, CIRP and the Possibilities Project at CHOP. One of its co-leaders, Dr. Lisa Biggs, associate chief medical officer at CHOP, said the Possibilities Project is reimagining 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,” she said. “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.”