Dr. Despina Stavrinos


Assistant Professor

Other information

Other information:
Despina StavrinosContact Information:

Email: dstavrin@uab.edu
Office Phone: (205) 934-7861

Fax: (205) 975-6110


B.S., 2003, University of Alabama

M.A., 2006, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Developmental Psychology
Ph.D., 2009, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Developmental Psychology

Curriculum Vitae
Laboratory Website: www.triplaboratory.com
Dr. Stavrinos conducts research and mentors students as the Director of the Translational Research for Injury Prevention (TRIP) Laboratory (www.triplaboratory.com). The TRIP Lab is aiming to reduce the morbidity and mortality related to unintentional injury in the Southeastern United States. Dr. Stavrinos’ applied behavioral background and expertise in unintentional injury and distracted driving behavior has prepared her to serve as research mentor to dozens of graduate, undergraduate and high school students in a number of disciplines, including Psychology (Developmental and Medical Psychology), Public Health (Epidemiology, Health Behavior, and Health Care Organization and Policy), Engineering, and Medicine. Through the TRIP Lab, Dr. Stavrinos creates highly relevant and engaging opportunities for students so that they become active participants in the learning process. Her commitment to training and education is further illustrated in the significant number of student first-authored scholarly presentations and publications that she has mentored since becoming a faculty member. For information about joining Dr. Stavrinos’ TRIP Lab as a research assistant, please email her at dstavrin@uab.edu

Teaching Interests:
Research Methods, Undergraduate Statistics, Developmental Psychology, Human Factors

Research Program:  
As Director of the Translational Research for Injury Prevention (TRIP) Lab, Dr. Stavrinos pursues research within the broad context of unintentional injury prevention and control, and in particular examines the impact of distraction on safety in at risk- vulnerable populations. She has received funding from multiple federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Transportation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, and National Science Foundation.

Dr. Stavrinos’ current research projects are described briefly below:
Senior and Adolescent Naturalistic Driving Study (SANDS)
Co-PIs: Stavrinos & Lesley Ross (Penn State University)
Abstract: This project is focusing on one of the leading causes of deaths for individuals across the lifespan: motor vehicle crashes. The overarching goal is to examine unbiased real-world driving in at-risk drivers across the lifespan, namely younger (16-19) and older (65+) adults. Participants will undergo a detailed baseline assessment of cognitive, sensory, and physical functioning. Their vehicles will then be installed with a data recording device that will provide naturalistic driving data with detailed information regarding driving behaviors (such as distracted driving), driving environment, and driving safety across a two week time period. Finally, participants will return for a post-test assessment to provide self-report driving data. This study is among the first to consider naturalistic driving using a lifespan development approach. Study results will be valuable to various stakeholders including: researchers (dissemination of results/suggestions for areas of needed research), medical community (realistic idea of actual driving and how it relates to self-reported driving), and potential policymakers (actual amount of distracted driving in at-risk age groups and how it relates to driving safety).

Developmental Disabilities and Driving Study
PI: Stavrinos
Abstract: The goals of the proposed study are to: 1) examine the driving performance of young individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), 2) explore and compare the possible underlying mechanisms for increased MVC risk for drivers with ASD and ADHD, and 3) to investigate the potential benefit of a cognitive training program on driving function of these at-risk individuals. Participants will undergo a baseline assessment of executive function, attention, impulsivity, distractibility and will drive in a simulator. Half of the participants will be selected to receive a cognitive intervention to be completed over a 6 week period. All participants will return for a post-test appointment. This project will shed light on driving safety and behavior of drivers with ASD and ADHD. Researchers may use these results to develop better screening methods for special populations who are at greater risk for future crashes and interventions/programs to maintain independent, safe driving.

Distracted Driving Education for High School Students

PI: Stavrinos
Abstract: This study will be among the first to objectively measure whether a one-day educational program is efficacious in changing young driver’s attitudes and behaviors towards distracted driving. This is critically needed, as most research to date has focused solely on characterizing distracted driving behavior. This study seeks to explain what translational benefits might exist for an educational program targeting young distracted drivers.

To participate in one of Dr. Stavrinos’ research studies, please call 205-975-9440 or email uabtriplab@gmail.com.

For Information on Distracted Driving: www.distraction.org

Representative Publications:
Decker, J.S., Stannard, S.J., McManus, B., Wittig, S.M.O., Sisiopiku, V.P., & Stavrinos, D. (in press, 2014). The impact of billboards on driver visual attention: A systematic literature review. Traffic Injury Prevention.

Garner, A.A., Gentry, A.N., Welburn, S.C., Fine, P.R., Franklin, C.A., & Stavrinos, D. (2014). Symptom dimensions of disruptive behavior disorders in adolescent drivers. Journal of Attention Disorders, 18, 496-503.

Stavrinos, D., Jones, J.L., Garner, A.A., Griffin, R., Franklin, C.A., Ball, D., Welburn, S.C., Ball, K.K., Sisiopiku, V.P., & Fine, P.R. (2013). Impact of distracted driving on safety and traffic flow. Accident Analysis and Prevention (Special Issue: Emerging Research Methods and Their Application to Road Safety), 61, 63-70.

Schwebel, D.C., Stavrinos, D., Byington, K.W., Davis, T., O’ Neal, E.E., & de Jong, D. (2012). Distraction and pedestrian safety: How talking on the phone, texting, and listening to music impact crossing the street. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 45, 266-271.

Stavrinos, D., Biasini, F.J., Fine, P.R., Hodgens, J.B., Khatri, S., Mrug, S., & Schwebel, D.C. (2011). Mediating factors associated with pedestrian injury in children with ADHD. Pediatrics, 128, 296-302.

Garner, A.A., Franklin, C.A., Fine, P.R., Sattin, R., & Stavrinos, D. (2011). Distracted driving among adolescents: challenges and opportunities. Injury Prevention, 17, 285.

Stavrinos, D., Byington, K.W., & Schwebel, D.C. (2011). Distracted walking: Cell phones increase injury risk for college pedestrians. Journal of Safety Research, 42, 101-107.

Stavrinos, D., Byington, K.W., & Schwebel, D.C. (2009). The effect of cell phone distraction on pediatric pedestrian injury risk. Pediatrics, 123, e179-e185.

Stavrinos, D. & Schwebel, D.C. (2009). The role of psychology in injury prevention efforts. Injury Prevention, 15, 69.