David C. Schwebel.

University Professor
Associate Dean for Research
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
HHB 560F
(205) 934-8745

Research Interests: Understanding and preventing unintentional injuries in children, adolescents, and young adults

Office Hours: By appointment

Education:

  • B.A., Yale University, Psychology
  • M.A., University of Iowa, Clinical Psychology
  • Ph.D., University of Iowa, Clinical Psychology
  • Internship, University of Washington School of Medicine, Clinical Psychology

David C. Schwebel has published over 300 peer-reviewed manuscripts, most focusing on understanding and preventing unintentional injury in children, adolescents, and young adults. Specific risk factors of interest include temperament and personality, overestimation of physical ability and cognitive development, and adult supervision of children.

From a prevention perspective, Dr. Schwebel has developed and implemented injury prevention techniques for a range of situations, including pedestrian safety training in virtual reality environments, remote car seat installation using interactive virtual presence, drowning prevention through lifeguard training at public swimming pools, dog bite prevention in rural China and in the United States, and kerosene safety in low-income South Africa neighborhoods.

Dr. Schwebel is a Woodrow Wilson Scholar, a Fulbright Award winner, and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. His research has been funded by NIH, CDC, DOT, and several other federal, non-profit and industry groups.

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UAB Youth Safety Lab

Dr. Schwebel is the director of the UAB Youth Safety Lab, a research lab dedicated to youth safety, conducting research using a wide range of experimental strategies. The UAB Youth Safety Lab conducts various studies designed to understand and prevent injuries to children, adolescents, and young adults.

Families interested in participating in research may contact the lab at (205) 934-4068 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Research Interests

What many people call an accident is usually not accidental. If people had behaved differently, that accident may have been averted. Early research in the UAB Youth Safety Lab, which I direct, focused on understanding psychological and behavioral factors that place children, adolescents and young adults at increased risk for unintentional injuries. We considered cognitive development, temperament, adult supervision, and many other factors.

Over time, my desire to apply our research findings to help children and families led me to translate our findings about risk for child injury into intervention and prevention programs. Currently, much of my research is focused on development, evaluation, and implementation of programs to reduce youth injury risk. Many of these prevention programs are based in technology — examples include using virtual reality to teach children to cross streets, multi-media internet training to improve teacher supervision at preschool playgrounds, and use of interactive augmented reality to help parents install car seats correctly. Other work is global — identifying ways to reduce kerosene poisoning in low-income South African communities, reducing risk of dog bites in rural China and pedestrian injury in urban China, and reducing suicide risk among young women in rural Iran. All of our research is closely grounded in psychological theory of child development, health-related behavior change, and ecological context. Our work is also applied, designed to improve public health through changes in how children and the adults who supervise them behave and think, or changes to the environment children and their supervisors engage within.

Our laboratory’s ultimate goal is to use psychological science to understand risk for injury and then develop, evaluate, and disseminate effective programs to reduce injuries to children, adolescents, and young adults.

Graduate Students

  • Casie Morgan (current)
  • Jenni Rouse (current)
  • Marissa Swanson (current)
  • Yixin Wang (current)
  • Jiabin Shen, 2015
  • Aaron L. Davis Fobian, 2012
  • Margaux Barnes, 2011
  • Katherine W. Byington, 2011
  • Despina Stavrinos, 2009 (co-chair)
  • Joanna Gaines, 2008 (MA thesis)
  • Elizabeth Bragg Bowling Lee, 2006
  • Benjamin K. Barton, 2005

Select Publications

  • Fobian, A. D., Rouse, J. B., Stager, L. M., Schwebel, D. C., & Avis, K. T. (in press). The effects of sleep deprivation and text messaging on pedestrian safety in university students. Sleep.
  • Schwebel, D. C., Long, D. L., & McClure, L. A. (in press). Injuries on the youth soccer (football) field: Do additional referees reduce risk? A randomized crossover trial. Journal of Pediatric Psychology.
  • Schwebel, D. C., Hasan, R., & Griffin, R. (2020). Using Bluetooth beacon technology to reduce distracted pedestrian behavior: A crossover trial study protocol. Injury Prevention, 26, 295-298.
  • Swanson, M., MacKay, M., Yu, S., Kagiliery, A., Bloom, K., & Schwebel, D. C. (2020). Supporting caregiver use of child restraints in rural communities via interactive virtual presence. Health Education & Behavior, 47, 264-271.
  • Rouse, J. B., & Schwebel, D. C. (2019). Adult supervision of young children in parking lots: Impact on child pedestrian safety. Journal of Safety Research, 70, 201-206.
  • Schwebel, D. C. (2019). Why “accidents” are not accidental: Using psychological science to understand and prevent unintentional child injuries. American Psychologist, 74, 1137-1147.
  • Huang, H., Chang, F., Schwebel, D. C., Ning, P., Cheng, P., & Hu, G. (2018). Improve traffic death statistics in China. Science, 362, 650.
  • Schwebel, D. C., Wu, Y., Li, P., Severson, J., He, Y., Xiang, H., & Hu, G. (2018). Evaluating smartphone-based virtual reality to improve Chinese schoolchildren’s pedestrian safety. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 43, 473-484.
  • Schwebel, D. C., McClure, L. A., & Porter, B. E. (2017). Experiential exposure to texting and walking in virtual reality: A randomized trial to reduce distracted pedestrian behavior. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 102, 116-122.
  • Shen, J., Pang, S., & Schwebel, D. C. (2016). A randomized trial evaluating child dog-bite prevention in rural China through video-based testimonials. Health Psychology, 35, 454-464.

Academic Distinctions and Professional Societies

  • Board of Scientific Counselors, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017-2020
  • Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Applied Research, American Psychological Association, 2019
  • Dennis Drotar Distinguished Research Award in Pediatric Psychology, APA Division 54 (Society for Pediatric Psychology), 2017
  • Caroline P. and Charles W. Ireland Prize for Scholarly Distinction, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 2013
  • Fulbright Award (Senior Specialists Scholar Award to China), 2011
  • Fellow, American Psychological Association, elected 2009 (Division 54)
  • Routh Early Career Award in Pediatric Psychology, APA Division 54 (Society for Pediatric Psychology), 2006
  • Woodrow Wilson Fellow (Children’s Health), 1999