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.
Expanding the Seat Belt Program Strategies Toolbox: A Starter Kit for Trying New Program Ideas
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Effect of Electronic Device Use on Pedestrian Safety: A Literature Review
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.
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.
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.
For Access to older content please go to our archived Research page.