Public Safety

Published on August 3rd, 2017 |


Shepherd Center develops mobile app to help parents train teen drivers

Shepherd Center, partnering with the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) and IT management consulting firm CapTech,  has developed a free, first-of-its-kind mobile app that will guide parents on how to better teach their teenagers to become safe drivers.

Shepherd Center’s certified driver rehabilitation specialists and injury prevention experts used their specialized training to create AutoCoach, an innovative app that makes it easier for adults to

The Shepherd Center in Buckhead

effectively teach their teens to drive defensively and safely.

AutoCoach tracks training hours, as well as night driving hours, which in Georgia is a prerequisite for obtaining a driver’s license. The app’s curriculum is applicable in all 50 U.S. states. AutoCoach is available as a free download in the Apple App and Google Play stores.

“With motor vehicle crashes being the leading cause of death for teens in our country, we must make sure our youngest drivers receive the proper training before they get behind the wheel,” said Harris Blackwood, director of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

Features of AutoCoach’ include a customizable parent-teen agreement, a graduated driver’s licensing quiz by state, distraction notifications, a driving log and a 10-chapter curriculum for parents based on best practices.

Those chapters cover basic topics, such as adjusting mirrors, seats and tire pressure, and the difference between double yellow and dotted yellow lines, as well as complex driving skills, such as merging onto crowded highways, driving around 18-wheelers and safely recovering from an overcorrection.

Some parents might choose to spend very little time on the most basic chapters and spend more time teaching more complex skills, said Emma Louise Harrington, MSPS, Ed.M., director of injury prevention and education at Shepherd Center. And that’s fine.

“Some kids already know the very basics and their parents are comfortable with their teens’ knowledge of those,” Harrington said. “But in the more complex chapters, it’s a good refresher for the parents, but vital that teens learn these things.”

Harrington acknowledged that AutoCoach is a time commitment for parents, but she believes once parents weigh the time commitment against the risks, it’ll be an easy decision.

Teens are a particularly vulnerable population on U.S. roadways because of their inexperience and risky driving tendencies. In Georgia, between 2013 and 2015, drivers ages 16 and 17 had the highest licensed-driver fatality rate among all motor vehicle crashes. And drivers ages 16 to 19 are three times more likely to die in a car crash than older, more experienced drivers.

“It has been a great pleasure to partner with Shepherd Center and CapTech in developing this first-of-its-kind, comprehensive driver’s education app that will help parents, grandparents and other adults provide training in a manner teens will be able to learn and use when they begin driving on their own,” Blackwood said of the partnership.

The AutoCoach curriculum was developed by Shepherd Center’s certified driver rehabilitation specialists (CDRS), who specialize in adaptive equipment and vehicles, and are often trained as occupational therapists.

CapTech provided the Apple and Android planning and development of the AutoCoach App.  “Leveraging the latest smartphone technology to improve driver safety aligns well with CapTech’s values”, says Boyd Christian, CapTech’s Atlanta Office Lead.  “We are combining the best in education content and the best in driving log accuracy to deliver a beautiful user experience that will prevent future injuries.”

Learn more at

–John Schaffner


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2 Responses to Shepherd Center develops mobile app to help parents train teen drivers

  1. JohnB says:

    Teach them to use their indicators, please.

  2. Todd says:

    Can’t speak highly enough of the AutoCoach app. My wife and I work crazy hours, and we are always running around like crazy as we own and operate Atlanta Tree Removal Company. The AutoCoach app has allowed us to keep track of our daughter’s driving as she gets all her requirements done to be able to get her license. She has almost completed all of them, and the best part of the app is the distraction notifications. I know that my little girl has become a safer driver simply because of what the app does to let her know about dangerous situations. I worry like crazy, as I’m sure every parent does, about her driving. But this app is honestly awesome.

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