Research & Evaluation
Understanding the Effects of Distracted Driving and Developing Strategies to Reduce Resulting Deaths and Injuries
A Report to Congress - December 2013
Ignition Interlock: An Investigation Into Rural Arizona Judges' Perceptions
This study sought to answer several questions regarding 2007 Arizona legislation requiring ignition interlock for all offenders convicted of Driving-Under-the-Influence (DUI), including first time DUI offenders. At the time the law was passed, Arizona was only one of two States [New Mexico being the other] to require ignition interlock for first time offenders.
Speed Management Program Plan
The goal of this Speed Management Program Plan is to improve public health and safety by reducing speeding-related fatalities and injuries.
Investigation of the Use and Feasibility of Speed Warning Systems
This report summarizes a feasibility evaluation of a speed monitoring system that provided speed warning feedback to drivers enrolled in a voluntary program, with particular emphasis on at-risk drivers, especially chronic speeders.
Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheets
A panel of international experts on drug-impaired driving met in Seattle during August 2000 to review developments in the field of drugs and human performance over the last 10 years; to identify the specific effects that both illicit and prescription drugs have on driving; and to develop guidance for others when dealing with drug-impaired driving problems. Delegates represented the fields of psychopharmacology, behavioral psychology, drug chemistry, forensic toxicology, medicine, and law enforcement experts trained in the recognition of drug effects on drivers in the field. These Fact Sheets represent their conclusions.
Demonstration of the "Trauma Nurses Talk Tough" Seat Belt Diversion Program in North Carolina
The results of this study support the combination of high-visibility enforcement and a diversion classroom-based brief intervention as a means of increasing seat belt use in a predominately rural, low-belt-use area.
Evaluation of NHTSA Distracted Driving Demonstration Projects in Connecticut and New York
The communities of Hartford, Connecticut, and Syracuse, New York, implemented year-long campaigns to test whether NHTSA's high-visibility enforcement (HVE) model could be applied to reduce two specific forms of distracted driving – driving while talking on a hand-held cell phone or texting.
The Click It or Ticket Evaluation, 2012
TRAFFIC SAFETY FACTS, Research Note (March 2014)
New Mexico’s Comprehensive Impaired-Driving Program
In late 2004, NHTSA provided funds to the New Mexico Department of Transportation to demonstrate a process for implementing a comprehensive State impaired-driving system. NHTSA also contracted with the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation to measure the effect of that system on various factors including driving-while-impaired (DWI) crash, injury, and fatality rates; DWI arrest rates; DWI conviction rates; blood alcohol concentration (BAC) patterns; and public awareness.
Bicycle Safety Education for Children From a Developmental and Learning Perspective
This report describes the nature of children and adolescents' bicycle injuries in addition to understanding the types of programs that exist and their effectiveness. It also explores the psychological domains related to riding a bicycle in childhood and adolescence such as motor skill development, cognitive development, brain development, and risk-taking and social influences.
Compendium of Traffic Safety Research Projects (1985-2013)
Brief summaries of research on alcohol-involved driving, drug-involved driving, occupant protection (e.g., seat belts, and child safety seats), speed and other unsafe driving behaviors, motorcyclist safety, pedestrian and bicyclist safety, older driver safety, novice and young driver safety, fatigue and distraction, and emergency medical services.
2011 National Survey Of Speeding Attitudes And Behaviors
The third in a series of surveys on speeding that have provided data to help further the understanding of driving behavior and to contribute to the development of countermeasures and interventions to reduce speeding.
2012 National Survey of Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and Behavior (Vols 1, 2, 3)
This three-volume report is a survey that addressed safety and mobility issues; obtained trip information; and explored perceptions and use of public facilities such as sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and bicycle paths. It was administered to a probability-based sample of randomly selected people 16 and older.
Alcohol and Highway Safety: Screening and Brief Intervention for Alcohol Problems as a Community Approach to Improving Traffic Safety
This report provides an overview of the use of Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI) as a countermeasure for those who have displayed, or could potentially display, harmful/hazardous drinking behaviors, including drinking and driving.
Licensing Procedures for Older Drivers
This study examined the driver licensing procedures in all 50 States as they apply to the older (65+) driver. A literature review examined reports of possible declines in older driver capabilities and the ability of a driver licensing agency to screen for them. The review also covered studies of licensing policies and procedures that had the potential ability to reduce older driver crash rates.
Characterizing Local EMS Systems
Although some information exists about the organization, financing, and delivery of EMS in the Nation's 200 largest cities, there is less information available about how services are organized outside large urban areas, in which 75 percent of the nation's population resides. There is little evidence to support alternative system designs and configurations in terms of their impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery. To this end, there is a need to document the variation in system configurations so they may be evaluated on a common basis.
Drowsy Driving and Automobile Crashes: Report and Recommendations
This report, sponsored by NHTSA and the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, is designed to provide direction to an NCSDR/NHTSA educational campaign to combat drowsy driving. The report presents the results of a literature review and opinions of the Expert Panel on Driver Fatigue and Sleepiness regarding key issues involved in the problem.
High-Visibility Enforcement on Driver Compliance With Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws
Gainesville, Florida increases pedestrian safety by implementing year-long program. This study developed and evaluated strategies to increase driver yielding to pedestrians on a citywide basis using high-visibility pedestrian right-of-way enforcement. The Gainesville Police Department took the lead for the city and became a full partner in project development and research.
Identifying Countermeasure Strategies to Increase Safety of Older Pedestrians
The objective of this project was to identify appropriate countermeasures that will reduce older pedestrians' exposure to injuries and fatal crashes. This involved exploring countermeasures within the area of transportation as well as in other fields such as public health and education with the intention of identifying strategies that can be implemented to increase older pedestrian safety.
Click It or Ticket Evaluation, 2008-2009
Statewide usage rates increased in 33 States (District of Columbia and Puerto Rico included) in 2008 and increased in 29 in 2009. The number of States increasing statewide belt use has decreased over time and the amount of annual increase was less than 1 percentage point for three of the last four years. It seems likely that more needs to be done to keep or extend gains made in seat belt awareness and belt use.
Evaluating Older Drivers' Skills
The objective of this project was to review the report from the 2003 University of Florida Consensus Conference as well as other important documents on similar topics, and to interview experts to obtain information about the strengths and weaknesses of these specialist-administered screening and assessment tools, self-screening instruments and training methods. The goal was not to reach consensus but to provide a rich background from the literature combined with expert opinions in an attempt to guide decisions and research goals related to these evaluation tools.
Seat Belt, DWI, and Other Traffic Violations Among Recent Immigrants in Florida and Tennessee
Phase I of this project identified two States, Florida and Tennessee, that maintain information on drivers' traffic violations and residency status. Phase II analyzed State databases to examine seat belt nonuse, DWI, and other traffic safety violations among drivers of different immigrant status. The Florida Division of Motor Vehicles provided a stratified random sample of 286,746 drivers' records in its database, for the years 2003 to 2009. The Tennessee Department of Safety provided records for 5,680,728 people for 10 years, 2000 to 2010.
Validation of Rehabilitation Training Programs for Older Drivers
This project studied the effectiveness of four interventions designed to bolster safe performance among healthy older drivers: (1) Classroom driver education with supplemental behind-the-wheel instruction; (2) Computer-based exercises to improve speed of processing and divided attention; (3) Clinical occupational therapy-based exercises to improve visual skills and attention; and (4) Physical conditioning to improve strength, flexibility, and movement.
Countermeasures That Work: A Highway Safety Countermeasure Guide for State Highway Safety Offices, Seventh Edition, 2013
This guide is a basic reference to assist State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) in selecting effective, evidence based countermeasures for traffic safety problem areas. It (1) describes major strategies and countermeasures that are relevant to SHSOs; (2) summarizes strategy/countermeasure use, effectiveness, costs, and implementation time; and (3) provides references to the most important research summaries and individual studies.
National Survey on Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors - 2012
This is the second survey conducted by NHTSA to assess attitudes and self-reported behaviors related to distracted driving, cell phones, and texting. The first one was conducted in 2010. The survey employed a partial overlapping dual frame sample design of households with landline telephones as well as households that relied on cell phones, and collected data from interviews with drivers 16 and older. Because younger respondents tend to be underrepresented in landline telephone surveys, the survey included a landline telephone oversample of drivers 16 to 34 years old.
The Effect of Sight Distance Training on the Visual Scanning of Motorcycle Riders: A Preliminary Look
This study used eye tracker technology to monitor where motorcycle riders were looking as they rode over an open road course and a closed course. The purpose of the project was to determine if visual behavior differs between beginner riders who have received training on sight distance, beginner riders who have not received training, and experienced riders.
An Examination of Washington State's Vehicle Impoundment Law for Motorcycle Endorsements
In July 2007, Washington State modified its vehicle code to expressly allow law enforcement officers to impound motorcycles of motorcyclists operating without a proper motorcycle endorsement on their licenses. The objective for this study was to examine the effects of this law regarding implementation issues, rider and law enforcement awareness of the law, the degree to which the law is being enforced, whether endorsements and/or rider safety training increased, and the effect of the law on crashes.
Washington’s Target Zero Teams Project: Reduction in Fatalities During Year One (Research Note)
In November 2006, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) sponsored the Nighttime Emphasis Enforcement Team (NEET) pilot project in Snohomish County. The goal of the NEET pilot project was to reduce serious injuries and fatalities due to impaired driving through the deployment of a fully dedicated team of Washington State Patrol (WSP) troopers concentrating on nighttime enforcement of impaired driving. NEET troopers were not responsible for responding to calls for service.
Teen Driver Safety: Review of the Literature on Driver Education Evaluation (2010 Update)
This report is part of the Large-scale Evaluation of Driver Education Project being conducted by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation and Northport Associates for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The study is sponsored by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; and Manitoba Public Insurance.
Motivations for Speeding (Vols I, II, III)
This is a three-volume report. It contains the results of a study that examined the speeding behavior of drivers in their own vehicles over the course of three to four weeks of naturalistic driving in urban (Seattle, Washington) and rural (College Station, Texas) settings.
Impact of Implementing a Primary Enforcement Seat Belt Law in Florida: A Case Study
This study examined the changes in belt usage associated with the primary law change and the contribution of the rural and statewide belt programs. Awareness surveys indicated that 94% of respondents knew of the primary law and 77% supported the law immediately after the law went into effect.
National Traffic Speeds Survey I: 2007
A field survey was conducted during Spring and Summer 2007 to measure travel speeds and prepare nationally representative speed estimates for all types of motor vehicles on freeways, arterial highways, and collector roads across the United States.
National Travel Speeds Survey II: 2009
A field survey was conducted during spring and summer 2009 as a longitudinal repetition to a similar effort undertaken in 2007. The goal was to measure travel speeds and prepare nationally representative speed estimates for all types of motor vehicles on freeways, arterial highways, and collector roads across the United States.
Functional Assessments, Safety Outcomes, and Driving Exposure Measures for Older Drivers
This project was conducted to provide an objective measure of the relationship between older adults' scores on a set of driving assessment tools and their (serious point) violations and crashes over a period of 18 months following the assessments. An additional objective was to compare alternative methods of measuring driver exposure.
Breath Test Refusals and Their Effect on DWI Prosecutions
This report describes the design and results of a project aimed at estimating the rate that drivers refuse to submit to a legally-requested breath alcohol concentration test, and the effect of such refusals on the prosecution of DWI cases. The study found the mean refusal rate to be 21% in 39 jurisdictions providing data, a very small change from that found in prior studies. The study did not indicate a clear relationship between refusing a BAC test and the probability of conviction for DWI/DUI across five local study sites.
Demonstration and Evaluation of the Heed the Speed Pedestrian Safety Program
This study built upon the work of Blomberg and Cleven (2006) in Arizona, where they developed and pilot-tested the concept of Heed the Speed, a neighborhood-based combination of enforcement, education, and modest engineering designed to reduce vehicle speeds to benefit pedestrian safety. The current program was expanded and applied to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in an attempt to determine if reducing speeds in neighborhoods would lead to a reduction in pedestrian-involved crashes.
Review of Studies on Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety, 1991-2007
This report reviews the pedestrian and bicyclist safety research literature in print as of 2007. It summarizes and synthesizes the key studies, evaluates existing knowledge and identifies research gaps and provides recommendations for future direction.
A Fresh Look at Driver Education in America
The objectives of this study were to: (1) identify and review current driver education and training programs in use nationally and internationally; (2) identify best teaching practices for teenagers; (3) examine the optimal sequencing for the presentation of safe driving skills in the classroom and behind-the-wheel training; and (4) assess whether a new approach to driver education would be beneficial.
Examination of Supplemental Driver Training and Online Basic Driver Education
This report describes supplemental driver training programs and online basic driver education. It coves supplemental driver training that focused on knowledge and skills beyond those normally found in traditional driver education delivered in the United States and in other countries. It also reviewed online basic driver education programs that were approved in at least one U.S. State to replace the standard driver education classroom requirement in the driver licensing process.
The Effect of Passengers on Teen Driver Behavior
Risky driving behaviors by teenage drivers were more common while they were driving in the presence of teenage peers. Teenage drivers were two-and-a-half times more likely to engage in one or more potentially risky behaviors when driving with one teenage peer compared to when driving alone. When driving with multiple teenage peers the likelihood increased to 3 times.
Research Note: Young Drivers Report the Highest Level of Phone Involvement in Crash or Near-crash Incidences.
This research note extracts information from the December 2011 telephone survey about cell phone use and distracted driving for young drivers. Young drivers report more crashes while using cell phones. Most drivers report that using a cell phone while driving makes no difference on their driving but texting or emailing does.
Role of Supervised Driving Requirements in Graduated Driver Licensing Programs
Many States require parents to certify that their teens have completed a certain amount of supervised driving practice, usually 40 to 50 hours, before they are permitted to obtain an intermediate license. Although strongly supported by numerous groups and organizations, the effectiveness of supervised practice requirements is unknown. NHTSA conducted a cross-sectional comparison of fatal crash rates throughout the United States, and examined State crash data using interrupted time-series analysis in a small number of States that had increased their required number of supervised driving hours.
Pedal Application Errors
This project examined the prevalence of pedal application errors and the driver, vehicle, roadway and/or environmental characteristics associated with pedal misapplication crashes based on a literature review, analysis of news media reports, a panel of driver rehabilitation specialists, analysis of multiple crash databases, and case studies. An analysis of crashes attributed to pedal-related vehicle equipment malfunction, rather than to a driver error, was also carried out based on a media scan.
Taxonomy of Older Driver Behaviors and Crash Risk
This study updates and extends our understanding of how age-related functional deficits can influence driver performance, and in turn crash risk for older drivers. It also examines the potential for behavioral countermeasures targeted to the remediation or accommodation of such deficits to attenuate critical errors in performance, and thus to reduce crash risk. A taxonomy table displaying the demonstrated and inferred links between these variables was developed as the central product of this research.
National Phone Survey on Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors
Most drivers will answer a call while driving and most will continue to drive after answering. About 2 out of 10 drivers (18%) report that they have sent text messages or e-mails while driving; about half (49%) of those 21 to 24 years old report doing so. More than half believe that using a cell phone and or sending a text message/e-mail makes no difference on their driving performance, yet as passengers, 90% said they would feel very unsafe if their driver was talking on a handheld cell phone or texting/e-mailing while traveling with them.
Evaluation of Teen Seat Belt Demonstration Projects in Colorado and Nevada
Teen seat belt use increased significantly in both States. Overall gains of 5 percentage points in Colorado and 8 points in Nevada were substantial, particularly given that both States have secondary enforcement laws and low fine levels ($20 in Colorado; $25 in Nevada).
Public Awareness Survey Recommendations of the NHTSA-GHSA Working Group
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed a basic set of survey questions including information on seat belt use, impaired driving, and speeding. These core questions can be used in regular telephone or similar surveys to track driver attitudes and awareness of highway safety enforcement and communication activities and self-reported driving behavior. This working paper summarizes the results.
Determining the Relationship of Primary Seat Belt Laws to Minority Ticketing
This study found that primary laws were related to gains in seat belt use without evidence of racial profiling associated with changing the law from secondary to primary.
Documenting How States Recently Upgraded to Primary Seat Belt Laws
This study documented the roles, strategies, resources, and arguments these States used in efforts to pass primary belt laws.
Pilot Study of Instrumentation to Collect Behavioral Data to Identify On-Road Rider Behaviors
Motorcycle-related research questions of interest to NHTSA were reviewed. Instrumentation techniques and study procedures that have been used for light- and heavy-vehicle studies were adapted for use in answering the motorcycle-related questions. Analyses were conducted to illustrate possible uses of the data and to confirm the effectiveness of the adapted instrumentation.
Field and Simulator Evaluations of a PC-Based Attention Maintenance Training Program
This report presents the results of three research studies regarding driver distraction from the forward roadway due to secondary in-vehicle tasks. Together, the results from these three studies suggest that young drivers may benefit from training that addresses attention maintenance skills.
Medical Review Process and License Disposition of Drivers Referred by Law Enforcement and Other Sources in Virginia
This report describes the medical review process and license outcomes for 100 drivers referred by law enforcement officers in Virginia. Additionally, it describes the license outcomes for 105 drivers referred by seven other sources: the courts for people adjudicated as mentally incapacitated, general traffic court, customers who self-report medical conditions on license application and renewal forms, DMV customer service representatives, the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI), family members, and physicians.
Evaluation of the DUI Court Program in Maricopa County, Arizona
This is the final report of a project that evaluated the effectiveness of a DUI court program aimed at reducing felony DUI offenders’ subsequent alcohol-related traffic violations.
Studies and Reports
- Alcohol-related studies
- Drug-related studies
- 2007 National Roadside Survey
- Understanding and Messaging to At Risk Drivers
- Citizen Reporting of DUI - Extra Eyes to Identify Impaired Driving
- National Survey of Drinking and Driving Attitudes and Behaviors: 2008
- Alcohol and Highway Safety: Screening and Brief Intervention for Alcohol Problems as a Community Approach to Improving Traffic Safety
Pedestrians and Bicycles
- Bicycle Safety Education for Children From a Developmental and Learning Perspective
- 2012 National Survey of Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and Behavior (Volumes 1, 2, 3)
- High-Visibility Enforcement on Driver Compliance With Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws
- Review of Studies on Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety, 1991-2007
- Evaluation of the Miami-Dade Pedestrian Safety Project
- Vehicle Travel Speeds and Pedestrian Injuries
- National Survey of Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and Behavior
- Evaluation of the Safety Benefits of Legacy Safe Routes to School Programs
- Applying Learning and Developmental Theories to Develop Safe Street-Crossing Behaviors
- The Effect of Sight Distance Training on the Visual Scanning of Motorcycle Riders: A Preliminary Look [Full Report]
- The Effect of Sight Distance Training on the Visual Scanning of Motorcycle Riders: A Preliminary Look [Traffic Tech]
- Effects of Alcohol on Motorcycle Riding Skills
- Evaluation of Motorcycle Helmet Law Repeal in Arkansas and Texas
- Evaluation of the Reinstatement of the Universal Motorcycle Helmet Law in Louisiana
- Evaluation of the Repeal of Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Kentucky and Louisiana
- Approaches to the Assessment of Entry-Level Motorcycle Training: An Expert Panel Discussion
- Motorcycle Crash Causes and Outcomes: Pilot Study
- Youth Motorcycle-Related Hospitalizations and Traumatic Brain Injuries in the United States, 2006
- Youth Motorcycle-Related Traumatic Brain Injury and State Helmet Laws, 2005–2007
- Understanding the Effects of Distracted Driving and Developing Strategies to Reduce Resulting Deaths and Injuries - A Report to Congress
- Evaluation of NHTSA Distracted Driving Demonstration Projects in Connecticut and New York
- 2012 National Survey on Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors (full report)
- Young Drivers Report the Highest Level of Phone Involvement in Crash or Near-Crash Incidences (Research Note)
- National Distracted Driving Telephone Survey Finds Most Drivers Answer the Call, Hold the Phone, and Continue to Drive
- National Phone Survey on Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors (Full Report)
- NHTSA Distracted Driving Research Plan (04/2010)
- Four High-Visibility Enforcement Demonstration Waves in Connecticut and New York Reduce Hand-Held Phone Use (Research Note)
- An Examination of Driver Distraction (Research Note)
- Driver distraction: A review of the current state-of-knowledge (04/2008)
- Driver Strategies for Engaging in Distracting Tasks Using In-Vehicle Technologies (03/2008)
- Traffic Safety Facts: Driver Electronic Device Use in 2008
- Traffic Safety Facts: Driver Cell Phone Use in 2006 - Overall Results
- More research on Distracted Driving
- Research on Drowsy Driving
Speeding / Aggressive Driving
- Investigation of the Use and Feasibility of Speed Warning Systems (Full Report)
- Investigation of the Use and Feasibility of Speed Warning Systems (Traffic Tech)
- 2011 National Survey Of Speeding Attitudes And Behaviors
- Motivations for Speeding (Vols I, II, III)
- National Traffic Speeds Survey I: 2007
- National Travel Speeds Survey II: 2009
- Demonstration and Evaluation of the Heed the Speed Pedestrian Safety Program
- Aggressive Driving Enforcement
- Automated Speed Enforcement in School Zones in Portland, OR
- A Program to Reduce Speeds in Residential Neighborhoods
- Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks in Washington State
- National Survey of Speeding and Unsafe Driving Attitudes and Behavior: 2002
- Impact of Setting and Enforcing Rational Speed Limits in Gulfport, MS
Emergency Medical Services
Occupant Safety Survey Reports
Younger and Older Drivers
Other studies ...
- Drowsy Driving and Automobile Crashes: Report and Recommendations
- Seat Belt, DWI, and Other Traffic Violations Among Recent Immigrants in Florida and Tennessee
- Countermeasures That Work: A Highway Safety Countermeasure Guide for State Highway Safety Offices, 7th Edition, 2013
- Feasibility of Collecting Traffic Safety Data From Law Enforcement Agencies
- The Art of Appropriate Evaluation
- Technology Applications for Traffic Safety Programs: A Primer
- Driving With Visual Field Loss: An Exploratory Simulation Study
- School Bus Seat Belts and Carryover Effects in Elementary School Children
- Evaluation of Five Years of GM Funding for Public Information and Education Programs
- Effects of Practice on Interference From an Auditory Task While Driving: A Simulation Study
- Traffic Safety Performance Measures for States and Federal Agencies
- Strategies for Medical Advisory Boards and Licensing Review