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