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.


67 Results
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.

Comparative Study and Evaluation of SCRAM Use, Recidivism Rates, and Characteristics

Alcohol monitoring devices -- usually ankle bracelet -- monitor and sample alcohol vapors on the skin. They are worn by people convicted of drunk driving and especially those who must maintain sobriety. One such type is called SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring), a commercially available device. The impact of SCRAM on the rate of repeat drinking and driving offenders was assessed for some offenders in Nebraska and Wisconsin. There were very few repeat offenses wearing the SCRAM devices, less than 2 percent. When their assignment period was over, offenders using SCRAM showed slightly higher percentages of recidivism than the control offenders, though the difference was not statistically significant.

Evaluation of the NHTSA Distracted Driving High-Visibility Enforcement Demonstration Projects in California and Delaware

It was concluded that high-visibility enforcement can be implemented over widespread, multi-jurisdictional areas and may reduce the number of people who use handheld cell phones while driving.

Evaluation of Washington State Target Zero Teams Project

As part of its "Target Zero" strategic highway safety plan that has the goal to reduce traffic fatalities in Washington to zero by the year 2030, the State of Washington established three detachments of Washington State Patrol (WSP) troopers to focus on nighttime impaired-driving offenses.

Process Overview of the High-Visibility Enforcement Programs Targeting Handheld Device Users in California and Delaware

The information in this process report includes: (1) how to plan and implement a regional/statewide HVE program that targets phone use while driving; (2) distracted driving enforcement practices; and (3) lessons learned from the California and Delaware distracted driving demonstration programs.

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