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.

NHTSA’s recently published reports are listed chronologically below. To the right are additional resources including Behavioral Research Notes and Traffic Techs. The most recent Behavioral Research Note is dated October 2017. The most recent Traffic Tech is dated September 2017.


61 Results
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.

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.

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.

Automated Feedback to Foster Safe Driving in Young Drivers: Phase 2

This project evaluated the effect of accelerator pedal feedback to reduce speeding over the posted speed limit. GPS coordinates and speed limits were linked to a mechanical device that introduced feedback to the accelerator pedal when drivers exceeded speed limits. The feedback could be overridden by pressing harder on the accelerator pedal. In addition to measuring the effect of the technology on speeding, the researchers also measured driver acceptance of and mental workload experienced from the system. Results showed the pedal feedback led to less speeding and somewhat increased driver workload. Driver acceptance of the technology was mixed.

Clinician's Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers, 3rd Edition

The American Geriatrics Society prepared this guide in cooperation with NHTSA to help healthcare professionals prevent motor vehicle crashes and injury to older adults. The guide assists clinicians in assessing older drivers at risk for crashes and counseling older drivers to help enhance their driving safety. Resources for easing the transition to driving retirement when necessary are also available.

School Start Times and Teenage Driver Motor Vehicle Crashes

This project conducted an in-depth longitudinal analysis of the relationship between changes in school start times and teen crashes. An intervention time series analysis was applied to data collected from two jurisdictions that changed to substantially later high school start times, Forsyth County, North Carolina, and Fayette County, Kentucky. Surrounding counties with no changes in school start times were included as controls. The study concluded that there was moderate evidence that the change in school start times in Forsyth County had a beneficial effect in reducing teen crashes, but there was no corresponding evidence for Fayette County.

Countermeasures That Work, 8th Edition

This 8th edition of Countermeasures That Work is a basic reference to assist State Highway Safety Offices in selecting effective, evidence-based countermeasures for traffic safety problem areas. These areas include: Alcohol- and Drug-Impaired Driving; Seat Belts and Child Restraints; Speeding and Speed Management; Distracted and Drowsy Driving; Motorcycle Safety; Young Drivers; Older Drivers; Pedestrians; and Bicycles. The guide describes major strategies and countermeasures that are relevant to SHSOs; summarizes strategy/countermeasure use, effectiveness, costs, and implementation time; and provides references to the most important research summaries and individual studies.

Meta-Analysis of Graduated Driver Licensing Laws

This study assesses the effectiveness of graduated driver licensing programs for reducing total, injury, and fatal crashes among drivers 15 to 20 years old by conducting a meta-analysis of GDL research since 2001. The sample of 14 selected studies represented 13 different States, and three represented GDL programs across most or all U.S. States. Results showed that GDL programs were associated with reductions in traffic crashes of 16 percent for 16-year-olds and 11 percent for 17-year-olds, but no reliable changes in crash outcomes for 18- or 19-year-olds. A reasonable strategy for any State considering passage of a GDL law might involve listing the full range of provisions applicable to that State.

Evaluation of State Ignition Interlock Programs:Interlock Use Analyses From 28 States, 2006–2011

In 2010 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and NHTSA joined to evaluate ignition interlock programs in selected States to provide information and best practices to States for ignition interlock programs. The project aimed to determine the following: how States can increase interlock use among DWI offenders who are required or eligible to install one; which changes in ignition interlock programs led to increases in ignition interlock use, identification of key features of ignition interlock programs, and which key program features were related to higher ignition interlock use rates.

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