Behaviors and Attitudes

Resources

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 are listed chronologically below. To the right are additional resources including Behavioral Research Notes and Traffic Techs.

119 Results
Drug and Alcohol Prevalence in Seriously and Fatally Injured Road Users Before and During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

A gap in knowledge exists regarding drug use among drivers and other road users seriously or fatally injured in crashes in the United States. This study examines the prevalence of alcohol and over-the-counter, prescription, and illegal drugs in the blood of seriously or fatally injured crash victims near the time of their crashes before and during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Data from 3,003 participants was collected at Level 1 trauma centers and medical examiner offices. The trauma centers and medical examiners made available blood for toxicological analyses from that collected during normal clinical procedures. The results indicate drug prevalence was high among seriously and fatally injured roadway users before the emergency began and was even higher during, especially for alcohol, cannabinoids (active THC), and opioids. Drivers showed significantly higher overall drug prevalence, with 64.7 percent testing positive for at least one active drug, compared to 50.8 percent before. Drivers also showed an increase in testing positive for two or more categories of drugs going from 17.6 percent before to 25.3 percent during the public health emergency. Of particular note, active THC was more prevalent among drivers during the public health emergency than alcohol (32.7% versus 28.3%), and opioid use among drivers almost doubled from 7.5 percent to 13.9 percent. The results suggest the highway safety community should be concerned about the impact of other drugs as well as alcohol. In particular, the observed cannabis and opioid prevalence rates before and during the public health emergency could be indicative of a growing problem.

Examination of the Traffic Safety Environment During the Second Quarter of 2020: Special Report

The COVID-19 public health emergency has affected most people in America. NHTSA is taking a close look at changes in roadway travel and driver behavior since the start of the emergency, with an emphasis on the second quarter (Q2) of 2020. We are learning about the impact on motor vehicle crashes and fatalities, and this report draws on an array of sources to understand our current traffic safety environment and better address our changing traffic safety needs. This report explores changes in countermeasure use, including traffic enforcement and public communications and outreach. This report also examines whether some people who continued driving even when many communities had stay-at-home guidelines may be inherently higher-risk drivers. The report draws on EMS and hospital trauma center data and renews focus on strategies to address these new concerns.

Evaluation of Correct Child Restraint System Installation

This research project used an experimental design, called an “incomplete factorial” type, with a convenience sample of 75 novice and 75 experienced child restraint system (CRS) users to test whether user experience, child’s age/weight/height, vehicle characteristics, and CRS characteristics are associated with installation errors. This study identified conditions related to correct and incorrect CRS use to inform programming and education with the goal of increasing correct use. The results help frame the target population for programming and education as not only novice users, but also experienced users, as the study did not find a significant difference in errors by experience.

The Role of Law Enforcement in Supporting Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety: An Idea Book

This “idea book” provides ideas and suggestions based on shared evidence around effective roles that law enforcement personnel can take in pedestrian and bicyclist safety programs and practices. It also serves as a framework for integrating a pedestrian and bicyclist safety program with law enforcement agencies by focusing on training, crash data reporting, identifying goals with partners, collaborating with traffic engineers, engaging the community, and measuring programs and plans. It can help States, local communities, law enforcement, and political support enforcement in addressing pedestrian safety.  Research studies show that law enforcement efforts are effective when properly implemented to affect the reduction of traffic related fatalities.

Older Drivers’ Self-Regulation and Exposure

This project examined relationships among older drivers’ functional abilities as assessed by a clinical test battery, behind-the-wheel (BTW) driving performance during an on-road evaluation, and naturalistic driving behaviors captured by video and tracking devices over a month of driving. The goal was to gain insights into the extent to which older adults modify their driving behaviors as their functional skills decline. Many of the functional assessment measures predicted performance on the BTW evaluation. Analyses of the exposure data showed that many participants with poorer functional and BTW scores limited their driving. The findings suggest that many people who experience functional declines regulate when and where they drive; however, some of those with the poorest functional and/or BTW scores did not appear to limit their driving.

The 2016 Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety Survey: Child Passenger Safety Report Traffic Tech

This Traffic Tech briefly summarizes findings from the 2016 Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety Survey (MVOSS), NHTSA’s seventh periodic national survey on occupant protection issues. It consisted of two questionnaires, one administered to a nationally representative sample of approximately 12,000 people that included questions about child passenger safety. The second questionnaire of 5,410 completed questionnaires.

Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety Survey Volume 3: Child Passenger Safety Report

The 2016 Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety Survey used address-based sampling with a multi-mode methodology to produce nationally representative estimates of self-reported behaviors, attitudes, and knowledge related to various motor vehicle occupant safety topics among United States adults 18 and older. This volume is third in a series of four volumes describing the survey and the results and discusses findings about child passenger systems and how people use car seats, booster seats and seat belts for children up to age 12. The other MVOSS reports are Volume 1: Methodology Report; Volume 2: Seat Belt Report; and Volume 4: Emergency Medical Services, Crash Injury Experience, and Other Traffic Safety Topics.

2016 Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety Survey Volume #1: Methodology Report

The 2016 Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety Survey (MVOSS) used address-based sampling with a multi-mode methodology to produce nationally representative estimates of self-reported behaviors, attitudes, and knowledge related to various motor vehicle occupant safety topics among United States adults 18 years and older. The current report is the first in a series of four volumes describing the survey and the results: Volume 1: Methodology Report; Volume 2: Seat Belt Report; Volume 3: Child Passenger Safety Report; and Volume 4: Emergency Medical Services, Crash Injury Experience, and Other Traffic Safety Topics Report.

Analysis of SHRP 2 Speeding Data - Findings Report

This report is a companion report to the Findings Report from the same study (Richard, Lee, Brown, & Landgraf, in press) and describes the methodologies and datasets used to prepare a set of data reductions that supported analyses of speeding behavior. It is a guide to insights for researchers navigating Strategic Highway Research Program 2 (SHRP2) data acquisition and processing. It focuses on methods used to obtain and process trip time-series data, prepare data reductions to extract free-flow episodes and extract speeding episodes. The workflow for preparing the data reductions consisted of three components: data acquisition, data management, and data processing. Lessons learned during the conduct of the research are provided.

Analysis of SHRP2 Speeding Data, Traffic Tech

This Traffic Tech summarizes the research from an investigation of driver speeding behavior using the Strategic Highway Research Program 2 (SHRP2) Naturalistic Driving Study data. Situational and driver-specific predictors of speeding were examined using descriptive statistics and regression analyses. In addition, speeding episodes were used to identify different types of speeding and to develop a typology of speeders. Five types of speeders were identified, and these groups differed in terms of their aggregate speeding behavior, demographic characteristics, and attitudes about speeding and risk taking.

For Access to older content please go to our archived Research page.