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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.

128 Results
Evaluation of an Updated Version of the Risk Awareness and Perception Training Program for Young Drivers

Previous research suggests newly licensed teen drivers often fail to anticipate where unexpected hazards might materialize. One training program designed to address these apparent deficiencies in knowledge and skills that has shown promise in previous tests is the Risk Awareness and Perception Training (RAPT) program. This project updated RAPT using high definition video and computer simulations to create a more interactive and realistic program. Researchers evaluated the modified program’s impact on the behaviors of novice and experienced drivers through the use of a computer-based test and during on-road drives in live traffic on a pre-defined route. Both the novice and experienced driver RAPT-trained groups showed substantial improvement in performance from pre- to post-test with the RAPT trainees hitting almost all of the targets during the computer post-test. The performance differences extended to the eye-tracker data arising from the on-road drives. The RAPT-trained groups hit significantly higher numbers of total primary targets and percentages of targets compared to the control groups. The study also employed a “Think Aloud,” or commentary driving, data collection effort. This data collection approach did not reveal any performance differences among the training groups. This study also included a persistence measure using the computer assessment one month after training. Results showed the RAPT-trained groups’ target hit rates decreased from the initial post-test to the persistence measure but remained above their baseline hit rates and above the control groups’ persistence measure hit rates. Taken together, the results suggest the RAPT revision represented a significant improvement over the previous versions in terms of realism with a similar impact on driver behaviors as measured by a computer assessment and through the use of eye-tracking in a live traffic environment.

Medical Review Practices for Driver Licensing Volume 2: Case Studies of Medical Referrals and Licensing Outcomes in Maine, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin

Second of three reports examining driver medical review practices in the United States and how they fulfill the basic functions of identifying, assessing, and rendering licensing decisions on medically at-risk drivers. This volume presents findings of case studies describing the referral sources, medical review requirements, and licensing outcomes in six States in 2012, Maine, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Conclusions support recommendations that may increase appropriate referrals for medical review. improve the medical review process while maintaining individual and public safety and preserving mobility among those with declining functional abilities, and ensure licensing agency resources applied to medical review focus on drivers most needing to be medically reviewed and tested.

Evaluating the Enforceability of Texting Laws: Strategies Tested in Connecticut and Massachusetts

This evaluation sought to determine the enforceability of texting laws and to test methods for enforcing these laws. Participating law enforcement agencies in Connecticut and Massachusetts demonstrated that a variety of enforcement strategies could be used to enforce texting laws, including spotter, stationary, and roving patrol strategies. Strategy variations involved using one- and two-officer patrols, uniformed and plain clothed officers, marked and unmarked patrol vehicles, and a variety of vehicle types, including SUVs, vans, pickup trucks, motorcycles, and cruisers. This evaluation gathered first-hand insights from the participating officers regarding their experiences enforcing texting laws. Key insights highlighted the importance of conducting officer training, holding roll calls focused on texting enforcement, engaging in pre-planning to ensure smooth operation of the strategies, creating partnerships with local and State enforcement agencies to multiply forces and maximize resources, and establishing leadership priority for conducting texting enforcement.

The Effect of High-Visibility Enforcement on Driver Compliance With Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws: Four-Year Follow-Up

This study is a follow-up to a previous study entitled High-Visibility Enforcement on Driver Compliance With Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws. The objective was to determine the extent to which the observed increases in driver yielding obtained in the previous study persisted over a follow-up period of nearly four years after the high-visibility enforcement intervention program ended.

Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk: A Case-Control Study

This study used a “case-control” design to estimate the risk of crashes involving drivers using drugs, alcohol or both obtaining 10,221 breath samples, 9,285 oral fluid samples, and 1,764 blood samples from more than 3,000 crash drivers and 6,000 control drivers. Crash risk estimates for alcohol indicated drivers with BrACs of .08 g/210L is 3.98 times that of drivers with no alcohol.

2013-2014 National Roadside Study of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers: Alcohol Results

This is 1 of 3 reports on our 2013-2104 National Roadside Survey – this report focuses on the Alcohol Results. The results showed a continuing reduction in alcohol-positive drivers on weekend nights – to 8.3% during our study. The results were announced during an event in early 2015.

Medical Review Practices For Driver Licensing Volume 1: A Case Study of Guidelines and Processes in Seven U.S. States

This is the first of three reports examining driver medical review practices in the United States and how they fulfilled the basic functions of identifying, assessing, and rendering licensing decisions on medically at-risk drivers, documenting strengths and weaknesses of a variety of approaches. This report presents the methods used to group the diverse medical review practices across the 51 driver licensing agencies into four broad medical review structures, describes selection of States for case study, and identifies strengths and weaknesses associated with each of the four medical review structures. The seven States were Maine, North Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, Ohio, Washington, and Oregon.

More Cops More Stops: Evaluation of a Combined HVE Program in Oklahoma and Tennessee

This report evaluates the “More Cops More Stops” combined enforcement program in Oklahoma and Tennessee, letting the traffic safety community make better informed programming decisions. This evaluation provides little evidence to support the continued use of MCMS to enhance the effect of CIOT and DSOGPO.

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.

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