Technology Transfer: Distracted Driving - Overview Summary and Assessment of Ways to Alleviate

One of the most dangerous and tempting distractions for teenage drivers are cell phones. Texting while driving is the act of composing, sending, reading text messages, e-mail messages, or making other similar use of the web on a mobile phone while operating a motor vehicle. Texting while driving is considered dangerous by many people, including authorities, and in some places has either been outlawed or restricted. Texting while driving is a growing trend and is quickly becoming one of the country’s top killers [Texting and Driving Statistics, undated]. Some rather startling statistics are presented in the Texting and Driving Statistics website. Texting while driving is now the leading cause of U.S. teenager deaths [Auto Safety, 2013]. Nearly 1.2 million car crashes in 2013 involves drivers talking on phones (according to the National Safety Council), and at least 341,000 involved text messaging [Teendriversource, 2016]. Also of concern [Teendriversource, 2016]: (1) Teens have the reaction time of a 70-year old person when distracted while driving; (2) Crash risk is 4x higher when a driver uses a cell phone (whether it is hands-free or not); (3) Many states have instituted a ban on hand-held cell phone use (both talking and texting); (4) Teen drivers receive the most calls from their parents (more than general calling patterns would suggest) [McDonald and Summers, 2015]; and (5) Even though teens recognize that talking or texting on a cell phone or using social media apps while driving is unsafe, they often engage in these behaviors while driving [LaVoie et al., 2015]. Mobile communication systems are linked to a significant increase in distracted driving, resulting in injury and loss of life [Federal Communications Commission, 2015]. In 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that driver distraction was the cause of 18% of all fatal crashes (with 3,228 fatalities) and crashes results in an injury (with 421,000 people wounded). Nearly 40% of all Americans teenagers say they have been in a car when the driver used cell phones in a way that put people in danger. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute [Fitch et al., 2013] found that text messaging creates a crash risk 23x worse than driving while not distracted. Approximately 11% of drivers with ages 18 to 20 years old, who were involved in an automobile vehicle accident and survived admitted they were sending or receiving texts when they crashed. Distracted driving endangers life and property and current levels of injury and loss are unacceptable [Fitch et al., 2013]. Recently (September, 2013), Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of the State of New York, authorized “texting zones” along the New York State Thruway in the state’s efforts to reduce distracted driving; this enables motorists to pull-off in areas to park and use their mobile devices [Mlot, 2013a,b]. Existing Park-n-Ride, rest stops, and parking areas along the Thruway and highways serve a dual function as texting-zones and signage is placed along the highw3ays to inform drivers where the zones are located. A total of 298 signs are located along major highways across the State of New York, notifying motorists of 91 texting-zone locations. Governor Cuomo also announced a 365% increase in tickets issued in summer 2013 (compared to summer 2012) for distracted driving, a result of an extensive law enforcement crackdown by the State Police. During summer 2013, the State Police issued 21,580 tickets compared to 5,208 tickets issued during summer 2012. Additionally, Ontario is also considering setting up safe texting zones [Leslie, 2016].


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  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $21675
  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Southeastern Transportation Research, Innovation, Development and Education Center (STRIDE)

    University of Florida
    365 Weil Hall
    Gainesville, FL  United States  32611
  • Project Managers:

    Kline, Robin

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Alabama, Birmingham

    1170 Administration Building
    701 20th Street South
    Birmingham, AL  United States  35294
  • Principal Investigators:

    Peters, Robert

  • Start Date: 20160801
  • Expected Completion Date: 20161231
  • Actual Completion Date: 20170630
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01640065
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Southeastern Transportation Research, Innovation, Development and Education Center (STRIDE)
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Jun 29 2017 3:04PM