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Behaviors and Attitudes


NHTSA studies behaviors and attitudes in highway safety, focusing on drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and motorcyclists. We identify and measure behaviors involved in crashes or associated with injuries, and develop and refine countermeasures to deter unsafe behaviors and promote safe alternatives.

Our recently published reports and research notes are listed chronologically below. To the right are additional resources including Traffic Techs.

175 Results

Characteristics of State Law Enforcement Liaison Programs: Case Studies

This project conducted follow-up case studies after a recent survey examining law enforcement liaison (LEL) program characteristics across the Nation. The survey identified the most important attributes that aid LELs in reaching their work goals. This project included the development of an interview guide, site selection, identifying LELs, discussions with the LELs, data collection, and analysis. There were seven topic areas: sponsoring organization involvement, staff and resource allocation, roles and responsibilities, performance measures, outreach, communication, and the COVID pandemic. Maintaining State Highway Safety Office interactions is important for grant administration, technical support, public outreach, and overall grant support. LELs noted it was important to recognize and be aware of how the current state of traffic enforcement culture affects their program goals and activities.

A Systematic Review of Profiles of Speed and Lane Keeping for Driving Simulator Data

This project aimed to develop a profile of “normal” driving performance by identifying patterns in data collected by previous studies at the National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS). To support this, a repository of control/baseline data was created that can also be used in lieu of collecting new data to support future studies. Data was mined from previous driving simulator research studies conducted at NADS on the NADS-1 and miniSim using predominately control/baseline scenarios, specifically scenarios devoid of driving under the influence, distraction events, and drowsiness. The repository includes study-specific data, including purpose of the study, sample population requirements, environment types, and driving variables collected along with demographic and simulator data.

Building Community Support for Impaired Driving Enforcement

Impaired-driving traffic crashes affect communities negatively across the United States. Research has confirmed the effectiveness of high-visibility enforcement (HVE) in reducing impaired-driving fatalities. This report describes a demonstration project to increase community support for law enforcement efforts to reduce alcohol-impaired driving in Joplin, Missouri. The Joplin Police Department convened community representatives and organizations to develop a 15-month plan to raise community awareness and support for year-round DWI enforcement including enforcement, media, and public outreach. During the enforcement, overall crashes decreased, and impaired-driving crashes remained stable when compared to the immediate pre-enforcement period. Although there were documented successes, an independent evaluation of the program found that there was not enough program activity to increase community support for sustained impaired-driving law enforcement efforts.

Evaluation of Community-Oriented Enforcement Demonstration Projects

This project evaluated effectiveness of two law enforcement agencies’ use of data-driven approaches to traffic enforcement in Missouri and Oklahoma, supported by community-oriented policing to improve traffic safety and boost community support for traffic law enforcement. One focused on improving seat belt use and the other on reducing alcohol-impaired driving. Both 15-month programs began in 2018. Community-oriented enforcement implemented in these demonstrations was not effective at building community support nor increasing perceived risk of enforcement needed for high-visibility enforcement to be effective.

Building Community Support for Seat Belt Enforcement: Implementation of Buckle Up Like a Champion Today in Norman, Oklahoma

This demonstration program used a holistic, multi-faceted approach containing Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS), seat belt enforcement, community partner activity, education, and outreach to increase public support for enforcement and increase seat belt use. The Norman, Oklahoma, Police Department and its community partners planned and implemented its Buckle Up Like a Champion Today program from 2016 to 2019, focusing enforcement on high-risk areas for seat belt nonuse. Due to unforeseen circumstances it could not be implemented as planned, and citations for seat belt violations remained stable during the program period. An independent program evaluator found the slight increase in seat belt use rates could not be attributed solely to the program because seat belt use rates in the control area also increased. The evaluator also found no change in the community’s attitudes toward the enforcement of seat belt laws.

State of the Practice of Alcohol Ignition Interlock Programs

This project was requested by a State as part of the National Cooperative Research and Evaluation Program documenting States’ interlock practices and program components. It presents information on State legislation, funding, data management, and other features of interlock programs. This report is useful for State interlock program managers interested in learning about the practices in other States as they seek solutions to improve program delivery in their own jurisdictions. It will also be of interest to other traffic safety partners, including advocacy groups.

Practices for Sharing Drug Recognition Expert Resources

This report presents the findings of research to understand how State and local law enforcement agencies have successfully shared resources for drug recognition experts (DREs). Sharing DRE resources refers to making DREs from one agency or jurisdiction available to other nearby agencies or jurisdictions to respond to DRE callout requests. The researchers conducted a literature review and interviewed DRE coordinators from five State and three law enforcement agencies to learn more about their DRE callout programs. The report summarizes key aspects of successfully sharing DRE resources and includes examples demonstrating how agencies share DREs and respond to callouts. Agencies and jurisdictions of all sizes and geographic localities can use this report to enhance existing DRE callout programs or implement new programs that involve sharing DREs across multiple organizations.

Developing a Webtool for Fatigue in Emergency Medical Services Scheduling

On behalf of NHTSA, the National Association of State EMS Officials had the Institutes for Behavior Resources develop a publicly and freely available website tool based on a biomathematical model of fatigue that applies to typical shift configurations/lengths among EMS personnel. The purpose of this webtool is to help agencies create and evaluate work schedules that minimize fatigue.

The Emergency Medical Services Sleep Health Study

While fatigue and poor sleep quality affect more than than half of emergency medical services (EMS) clinicians, there is no known standard for educating and training. For this report the research team created the Fatigue Education Program for Emergency Medical Services, 10 brief education modules based on recommendations from the American College of Occupational Environmental Medicine. The primary aim of this study was to determine if providing education and training to EMS personnel on the importance of sleep health and dangers of fatigue improves indicators of sleep quality and fatigue. The researchers used a pragmatic, cluster-randomized, wait-list control, 6-month study design. The primary outcome was the Pittsburgh sleep quality index -measured sleep quality at 3- and 6-month follow-ups. Intention-to-treat analyses revealed no differences between the intervention and comparison groups in mean sleep quality scores at 3- and 6-month follow-ups. Per protocol analyses showed that the greater the number of modules viewed, compared to no viewings, the greater the improvement in sleep quality and greater the reduction in fatigue. The largest improvement in sleep quality was observed among EMS clinicians who viewed eight to 10 education modules. Given these findings, the Fatigue Education Program for Emergency Medical Services may be a useful resource for EMS administrators who aim to fulfill the 2018 evidence-based guideline recommendation of educating and training EMS workers on sleep and fatigue

Alcohol and Drug Prevalence Among Seriously and Fatally Injured Road Users

Interest in how drugs other than alcohol affect roadway safety has increased. Studies conducted by NHTSA and others gave insights, but a knowledge gap exists on drug prevalence among drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists seriously or fatally injured in crashes. This study sought to fill this gap by examining drug prevalence among a large sample (N = 7,279) of seriously injured roadway users at seven trauma centers and fatally injured crash victims at four medical examiners. Overall, 55.8% of the injured or killed tested positive for one or more drugs including alcohol, and, overall, 19.9% tested positive for two or more categories of drugs. The results are a first look at drug prevalence among a large sample of seriously or fatally injured roadway users.