Associate Dean for Research in the Sciences
Heritage Hall 571
(205) 934-8745

Research Interests: Understanding and preventing unintentional child injuries

David SchwebelOffice Hours: By appointment only

  • BA, Yale University, Psychology
  • MA, University of Iowa, Clinical Psychology
  • PhD, University of Iowa, Clinical Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology Internship, University of Washington School of Medicine

David C. Schwebel has published over 130 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.

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.

Video: Pediatric Pedestrian Safety in Virtual Reality

Families interested in participating in research may contact the lab at (205) 934-4068 or
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, school playground safety via behavioral strategies targeting teachers, 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.

Curriculum Vitae

What many people call an accident is usually not accidental. If people had behaved differently, that accident may have been averted. The incident may have been unintentional, but it was not accidental. 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 for social justice and activism led me to translate our findings about risk for child injury into intervention and prevention programs. Therefore, I moved my research program to development, evaluation, and implementation of programs to reduce injury risk. Much of my lab’s work is 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 internet-based games and videos to teach children to be safer with their pet dogs. 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 reducing suicide risk among young women in rural Iran. All of our work 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 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.
  • Hayley Wells, 2017 (ongoing)
  • 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
  • Schwebel, D.C., McClure, L.A., & Severson, J. (2015). Evaluating a website to teach children safety with dogs. Injury Prevention, 21(1), e2. doi: 10.1136/injuryprev-2014-041286.
  • Schwebel, D.C., Pennefather, J., Marquez, B., & Marquez, J. (in press). Internet-based training to improve preschool playground safety: Evaluation of the Stamp-in-Safety program. Health Education Journal, 74(1), 37-45. doi: 10.1177/0017896914522030.
  • Schwebel, D.C., Wells, H., & Johnston, A. (2015). Children’s recognition of dangerous household products: Child development and poisoning risk. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 40(2), 238-50.
  • Avis, K.T., Gamble, K.L., & Schwebel, D.C. (2014). Does excessive daytime sleepiness affect children’s pedestrian safety? Sleep, 37, 283-287.
  • Schwebel, D.C., Barton, B.K., Shen, J., Wells, H.L., Bogar, H., Heath, G., & McCullough, D. (2014). Systematic review and meta-analysis of behavioral interventions to improve child pedestrian safety. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 39, 826-845.
  • Schwebel, D.C., McClure, L.A., & Severson, J. (2014). Teaching children to cross streets safely: A randomized controlled trial. Health Psychology, 33, 628-638.
  • Shen, J., Li, S., Xiang, H., Lu, S., & Schwebel, D.C. (2014). Antecedents and consequences of pediatric dog-bite injuries and their developmental trends: 101 cases in rural China. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 63, 22-29. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2013.10.025
  • Byington, K.W., & Schwebel, D.C. (2013). Effects of mobile internet use on college student pedestrian injury risk. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 51, 78-83. doi: 10.1013/j.aap.2012.11.0
  • Davis, A.L., Avis, K.T., & Schwebel, D.C. (2013). The effects of sleep restriction on adolescents’ pedestrian safety in a virtual environment. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53, 785- 790. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.07.008
  • UAB Provost's Award for Faculty Excellence in Academic Engagement and Global Citizenship, 2014
  • 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