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

124 Results
Characterizing Ambulance Driver Training in EMS

The technical report, “System Level RESS Safety and Protection Test Procedure Development, Validation, and Assessment” was prepared for NHTSA by Argonne National Laboratory via Interagency Agreement DTNH22-15-X-00513. The project originally initiated in August 2015 with a cost of $550,000. The draft report was received by NHTSA in December of 2017 and circulated for agency comments. These comments were assessed, and appropriate revisions were included in this final report.

Fatigue in Emergency Medical Services Systems

This project produced five evidence-based guidelines (EBGs) for fatigue risk management tailored to Emergency Medical Services (EMS) operations using the National Prehospital EBG Model Process and the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation methodology. (1) Fatigue/sleepiness surveys measure and monitor fatigue in EMS personnel; (2) EMS personnel work shifts shorter than 24 hours; (3) EMS personnel have access to caffeine; (4) EMS personnel have the opportunity to nap while on duty; (5) EMS personnel receive education and training to mitigate fatigue and fatigue-related risks. Every minute more than 35 patients are transported in ambulances to hospitals; there are an average of 4,500 crashes involving ambulances a year, resulting in an average of 33 deaths annually.  More than half of EMS personnel report fatigue or poor sleep, with two times the odds of injury and medical error among fatigued EMS personnel.

The 2016 Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety Survey: 911 Systems Traffic Tech

The 2016 Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety Survey: 911 Systems Traffic Tech

The 2016 Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety Survey: Emergency Medical Services Traffic Tech

This Traffic Tech discusses emergency medical services (EMS) results from the 2016 Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety Survey of 12,000 people that included 32 questions about EMS. The results f demonstrated the strong link between EMS and motor vehicle crashes and the high degree to which the public values and trusts EMS clinicians. Nearly all (99%) respondents reported confidence in EMS clinicians.

2016 Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety Survey: Volume 1, Methodology 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 2: Seat Belt Report

This report describes Volume 2 (seat belts), part of the four volumes of results of NHTSA’s  seventh (2016) Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety Survey of nationally representative, self-reported behaviors, attitudes, and knowledge related to various traffic safety topics. While the focus of the survey is adult seat belt use and child passenger safety, there are also questions about emergency medical services, crash injury experience, emergency situations, air bags, speeding, cell phone use, and alcohol-impaired driving. Specifically, it explores (1) 2016 self-reported seat belt use, (2) reasons for seat belt use and non-use, (3) attitudes concerning the utility of seat belts, and (4) attitudes, knowledge, and experience with seat belt laws and their enforcement.

The 2016 Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety Survey: Seat Belt Report Traffic Tech

This Traffic Safety Facts Traffic Tech briefly summarizes the 2016 Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety Survey (MVOSS) Seat Belt Report, showing that although most drivers use seat belts, a sizeable minority (estimated 10% in 2017) choose not to wear belts. Furthermore, while statistics from NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis indicate that the percentage of fatally injured passenger vehicle occupants who were unbelted has decreased over the past 10 years from 54%  percent in 2007 to 48%  percent in 2016, the portion remains high at almost half of all passenger vehicle fatalities.

Young Driver Survey

The over-representation of young drivers in crashes and road fatalities is a serious public health concern and imposes substantial human, social, and economic costs. Contributing factors to crash risk include exposure, inexperience, distraction, recklessness, and social influence from peer passengers. Fortunately, young driver motor vehicle crashes are preventable, and proven strategies can improve the safety of young drivers on the road. The Young Driver Survey explored traffic safety attitudes and beliefs of young people 16 to 21 years old residing in Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. This questionnaire explored issues with the driving experiences of younger drivers and identified key challenges to safety measures. About 18,000 respondents (n = 17,698) completed the survey.

Young Driver Survey: Traffic Tech

Although young drivers represented only 5.4% of all licensed drivers in 2016, they represented 8.9% of drivers involved in fatal crashes, a leading cause of death among young people. Factors influencing young drivers’ risk of crash include age-related immaturity, lack of driving experience, and risky behaviors like speeding and distraction. To better understand these factors and design better countermeasures, NHTSA conducted a survey on the self-reported traffic safety behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs of young drivers 16 to 21 years old in five States. This report briefly summarizes those results.

Motorcyclists’ Attitudes on Using High-Visibility Gear To Improve Conspicuity A Study Conducted Under NCREP — The National Cooperative Research and Evaluation Program Findings From A Focus Group Study

Multi-vehicle motorcycle crash research suggests difficulty detecting motorcycles is a relevant factor. Countermeasures increase conspicuity of a motorcycle rider by wearing high-visibility gear, especially at night or in low-light conditions, yet many riders do not wear high-visibility gear. This report describes a study exploring why riders will or won’t wear high-visibility gear. Eighteen focus groups of 137 riders in Maryland, California, Texas, and Michigan discussed their attitudes, beliefs and preferences regarding high-visibility gear. The groups consisted of riders of the same gender and who ride the same motorcycle type (cruiser, touring motorcycle, or sport motorcycle). Findings revealed that a minority of participants regularly wear high-visibility gear. Primary reasons for not wearing high-visibility apparel were objections to appearance and the belief that it does not fit with their riding culture.

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