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.

A Comparative Analysis of State Traffic Safety Countermeasures and Implications for Progress “Toward Zero Deaths” in the United States

States use a variety of countermeasures to reduce traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities within their jurisdictions. These countermeasures focus primarily on engineering, law enforcement, and public education. NHTSA’s bi-annual publication, Countermeasures That Work, documents existing behavioral traffic safety countermeasures and rates countermeasures for demonstrated effectiveness. However, many of the most effective countermeasures are not adopted or implemented consistently across States. The objective for this study was to identify proven countermeasures that, if adopted, would help States achieve progress “Toward Zero Deaths.”

Evaluation of the Washington Nighttime Seat Belt Enforcement Program

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission and NHTSA conducted a high-visibility Nighttime Seat Belt Enforcement (NTSBE) program in Washington. The two-year program followed the basic “Click It or Ticket” model by using highly visible enforcement combined with increased paid and earned media about the enforcement but applied its efforts during the nighttime rather than the daytime hours. The NTSBE program positively affected driver awareness, increased observed nighttime seat belt use, and did not decrease the daytime use rate.

Evaluating the Enforceability of Texting Laws: Strategies Tested in Connecticut and Massachusetts

This evaluation sought to determine the enforceability of texting laws and to test methods for enforcing these laws. Participating law enforcement agencies in Connecticut and Massachusetts demonstrated that a variety of enforcement strategies could be used to enforce texting laws, including spotter, stationary, and roving patrol strategies. Strategy variations involved using one- and two-officer patrols, uniformed and plain clothed officers, marked and unmarked patrol vehicles, and a variety of vehicle types, including SUVs, vans, pickup trucks, motorcycles, and cruisers. This evaluation gathered first-hand insights from the participating officers regarding their experiences enforcing texting laws. Key insights highlighted the importance of conducting officer training, holding roll calls focused on texting enforcement, engaging in pre-planning to ensure smooth operation of the strategies, creating partnerships with local and State enforcement agencies to multiply forces and maximize resources, and establishing leadership priority for conducting texting enforcement.

Medical Review Practices for Driver Licensing Volume 2: Case Studies of Medical Referrals and Licensing Outcomes in Maine, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin

Second of three reports examining driver medical review practices in the United States and how they fulfill the basic functions of identifying, assessing, and rendering licensing decisions on medically at-risk drivers. This volume presents findings of case studies describing the referral sources, medical review requirements, and licensing outcomes in six States in 2012, Maine, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Conclusions support recommendations that may increase appropriate referrals for medical review. improve the medical review process while maintaining individual and public safety and preserving mobility among those with declining functional abilities, and ensure licensing agency resources applied to medical review focus on drivers most needing to be medically reviewed and tested.

Evaluation of an Updated Version of the Risk Awareness and Perception Training Program for Young Drivers

Previous research suggests newly licensed teen drivers often fail to anticipate where unexpected hazards might materialize. One training program designed to address these apparent deficiencies in knowledge and skills that has shown promise in previous tests is the Risk Awareness and Perception Training (RAPT) program. This project updated RAPT using high definition video and computer simulations to create a more interactive and realistic program. Researchers evaluated the modified program’s impact on the behaviors of novice and experienced drivers through the use of a computer-based test and during on-road drives in live traffic on a pre-defined route. Both the novice and experienced driver RAPT-trained groups showed substantial improvement in performance from pre- to post-test with the RAPT trainees hitting almost all of the targets during the computer post-test. The performance differences extended to the eye-tracker data arising from the on-road drives. The RAPT-trained groups hit significantly higher numbers of total primary targets and percentages of targets compared to the control groups. The study also employed a “Think Aloud,” or commentary driving, data collection effort. This data collection approach did not reveal any performance differences among the training groups. This study also included a persistence measure using the computer assessment one month after training. Results showed the RAPT-trained groups’ target hit rates decreased from the initial post-test to the persistence measure but remained above their baseline hit rates and above the control groups’ persistence measure hit rates. Taken together, the results suggest the RAPT revision represented a significant improvement over the previous versions in terms of realism with a similar impact on driver behaviors as measured by a computer assessment and through the use of eye-tracking in a live traffic environment.

Expanding the Seat Belt Program Strategies Toolbox: A Starter Kit for Trying New Program Ideas (DOT HS 812 341)

Researchers examined behavioral-change strategies proven effective in education, healthcare, advertising as possible approaches to increase seat belt use. This report is the result, a "starter kit" of ideas of varying levels of readiness so occupant protection programmers can use them in seat belt programming across the country. Five strategies include high school service-learning programs, hospital discharge programs, targeted online advertising, online learning and e-learning, and product/message placement.

More Cops More Stops: Evaluation of a Combined HVE Program in Oklahoma and Tennessee (DOT HS 812 337)

This report evaluates the “More Cops More Stops” combined enforcement program in Oklahoma and Tennessee, letting the traffic safety community make better informed programming decisions. This evaluation provides little evidence to support the continued use of MCMS to enhance the effect of CIOT and DSOGPO.

The Effect of High-Visibility Enforcement on Driver Compliance With Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws: Four-Year Follow-Up (DOT HS 812 364)

This study is a follow-up to a previous study entitled High-Visibility Enforcement on Driver Compliance With Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws. The objective was to determine the extent to which the observed increases in driver yielding obtained in the previous study persisted over a follow-up period of nearly four years after the high-visibility enforcement intervention program ended.

2013-2014 National Roadside Study of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers: Alcohol Results

This is 1 of 3 reports on our 2013-2104 National Roadside Survey – this report focuses on the Alcohol Results. The results showed a continuing reduction in alcohol-positive drivers on weekend nights – to 8.3% during our study. The results were announced during an event in early 2015.

Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk: A Case-Control Study

This study used a “case-control” design to estimate the risk of crashes involving drivers using drugs, alcohol or both obtaining 10,221 breath samples, 9,285 oral fluid samples, and 1,764 blood samples from more than 3,000 crash drivers and 6,000 control drivers. Crash risk estimates for alcohol indicated drivers with BrACs of .08 g/210L is 3.98 times that of drivers with no alcohol.

Medical Review Practices For Driver Licensing Volume 1: A Case Study of Guidelines and Processes in Seven U.S. States

This is the first of three reports examining driver medical review practices in the United States and how they fulfilled the basic functions of identifying, assessing, and rendering licensing decisions on medically at-risk drivers, documenting strengths and weaknesses of a variety of approaches. This report presents the methods used to group the diverse medical review practices across the 51 driver licensing agencies into four broad medical review structures, describes selection of States for case study, and identifies strengths and weaknesses associated with each of the four medical review structures. The seven States were Maine, North Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, Ohio, Washington, and Oregon.

Evaluation of a Rural Seat Belt Demonstration Program in Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee

Three southeastern States initiated high-visibility enforcement campaigns to address lower seat belt use in their rural areas than in non-rural areas. Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee conducted four waves of intensified enforcement and media from November 2008 to May 2010. The May campaigns were conducted just prior to the national Click It or Ticket campaigns. Combining activity, awareness and usage data from all three States, there was a significant positive correlation between media expenditures and awareness of rural seat belt messages. Two awareness indices correlated highly with usage and achieved statistical significance: awareness of rural seat belt messages and perceived risk of a ticket for not buckling up. While the significant correlations between awareness measures and belt usage suggest that the message got through to drivers, comparison of changes in belt use in the RDP versus the control areas produced mixed results. Seat belt usage increased significantly in the targeted rural areas of all three States, but it also increased at about the same rate in the control areas in two of the States.

Video and Non-Video Feedback Interventions for Teen Drivers

In-vehicle feedback technologies help parents teach their adolescent drivers. While feedback technologies have been shown to reduce some risky driving behavior, teens and parents’ privacy concerns deter some families from using them, especially technologies that include video. This study evaluated two similar technology-based systems, one with and one without video, to determine how much they reduced unsafe driving behavior in newly licensed teen drivers.

Marijuana, Other Drugs, and Alcohol Use by Drivers in Washington State

In Washington State legal sale of marijuana began July 8, 2014. A voluntary, anonymous roadside study was conducted to assess the prevalence of drivers testing positive for alcohol and other drugs including marijuana on Washington’s roads. Data was collected in three waves, before implementation of legal sales, about 6 months after implementation, and one year after implementation. Of almost 2,500 participants, 14.6 percent of drivers, 19.4 percent of drivers, and 21.8 percent of drivers were THC-positive in Waves 1, 2, and 3, respectively.

2013–2014 National Roadside Study of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers - Methodology

This report describes the methodology for the National Roadside Study (NRS), a national field study to estimate the prevalence of alcohol-, drug-, and alcohol-plus-drug-involved driving primarily among nighttime weekend drivers, but also daytime Friday drivers.

Functional Outcomes for Older Adults Injured in a Crash

This report explores health and quality-of-life impacts of crashes among older (65+) and middle-aged (40-55) occupants. Analyses indicated the injured people had long-term health decrements following the crashes, and that older and middle-aged injured occupants showed continuing health decrements approximately 15 months following the crashes. Although both groups showed similar physical effects, middle-aged people showed greater quality-of-life decrements. These findings demonstrate the long-term implications of injury crashes and therefore highlight the need for crash avoidance and mitigation countermeasures.

Survey of DWI Courts

NHTSA conducted a web-based survey of DWI Courts and DWI/Drug Courts (court programs that handle both DWI and drug offenders) in April/May 2015 in order to obtain detailed information on how DWI Courts were operating. NHTSA conducted the survey in collaboration with the National Center for DWI Courts, who alerted State Drug Court Coordinators to the survey, supported NHTSA webinars that described the survey, and provided NHTSA with contact information for the court programs. A total of 156 courts responded to the survey from a contact list of 473.

Evaluation of Kansas and Missouri Rural Seat Belt Demos

Research has shown that seat belt use is lower in rural areas of the United States, which may be one reason fatalities are higher in these areas than in urban area. NHTSA sponsored two State-level demonstration projects intended to increase seat belt use in rural areas of Kansas and Missouri. During the study, Kansas and Missouri had secondary seat belt laws. Kansas used multiple media and enforcement waves, and Missouri employed a month-long media and enforcement campaign. Evaluations demonstrated increases in seat belt usage in many of the rural counties participating in the project, but some counties showed no change or even a decrease in seat belt use. Kansas showed an overall increase in seat belt use, from 61 to 70 percent use after the second intervention. Missouri showed increases in belt use in some of the 10 counties, though offset by decreases or no change in the other counties. Results support the conclusion that supplemental efforts of the demonstration projects produced positive results in the target counties and also benefited the total occupant protection programs in the State.

Advancing Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety: A Primer for Highway Safety Professionals

This primer for highway safety professionals is a reference for integrated and improved pedestrian and bicycle safety, summarizing the most promising infrastructure and behavioral programs addressing specific safety problems and highlighting how to implement these approaches. It identifies opportunities for agency collaboration and funding, and offers real-world examples of how States and local jurisdictions address pedestrian and bicycle issues. It includes descriptions of key concepts and definitions of common terms and acronyms used in pedestrian and bicycle safety issues.

System Analysis of Automated Speed Enforcement Implementation

This survey of U.S. jurisdictions with Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) programs examined protocols and practices in ASE deployment and implementation as well as the alignment of the programs with NHTSA guidelines. Differences between older and newer ASE programs were related to the enabling legislation and technology used. Speed management plans are important components of speed enforcement. Of the agencies responding to the survey, 53% had no plan for reducing speeding, while 34% had a plan, and 11% did not know if they had one. ASE program alignment with the NHTSA guidelines varied. Most agencies (63%) were unaware of the ASE guidelines prior to participating in the study.

Effect of Electronic Device Use on Pedestrian Safety: A Literature Review (DOT HS 812 256)

This literature review summarizes pedestrian distraction, driver distraction, and pedestrian-vehicle interactions. The findings further divide into subsections on study methodologies such as naturalistic observations, simulation, laboratory, or crash database analysis. A few studies investigate electronic device use by pedestrians and drivers and the effect on pedestrian safety, although with fewer naturalistic observation studies. Most previous studies focus primarily on cell phone use, but the discussion regarding other types of electronic devices is missing. The review illustrates the need to conduct naturalistic observations of the effect of electronic device use on pedestrian distraction and safety.

Motivations for Speeding – Additional Data Analysis

This study examined naturalistic driving data from 164 drivers. It defined speeding in terms of speeding episodes and examined the influence of situational factors on different types of speeding. Analyses identified several types of speeding: Speeding that occurs around speed-zone transitions, incidental speeding, casual speeding, cruising speeding, and aggressive speeding. Analyses also identified four driver types: Unintentional Speeders, Situational Speeders, Typical Speeders, and Deliberate Speeders. The types of speeding and driver types identified occurred across all demographic groups. Findings on the general riskiness of different types of speeding and location-specific characteristics and driving environment effects on speeding are reported.

Evaluation of the Safety Benefits of the Risk Awareness and Perception Training Program for Novice Teen Drivers

This project evaluated the impact of the Risk Awareness and Perception Training (RAPT) program on young driver crashes and traffic violations. A total of 5,251 young drivers 16 to 18 years old were recruited after passing on-road driving exams at six California DMV licensing offices. They were assigned to a group who completed the RAPT program or a comparison group who received pre-tests but did not receive any training. Their crash and violation records were tracked for 12 months post-licensure. Analyses showed substantial improvements in trainee performance. Crash analyses did not show an overall main effect for treatment, but there was a significant treatment by sex interaction effect. Analyses were then conducted for males and females separately to explore this interaction. The results showed a significant treatment effect for males but not for females. RAPT-trained males showed an approximately 23.7% lower crash rate relative to the male comparison group. For females, the RAPT group had an estimated 10.7% higher crash rate than the comparison group, but this increase was not statistically significant.

For more research reports, visit https://one.nhtsa.gov/Research/Behavioral-Research