Primary Handheld Bans vs. Texting Bans

Distracted driving is a complex and ever increasing risk to public safety on roadways. Drivers’ use of electronic devices significantly diverts human attention away from the driving task. The law enforcement community faces significant challenges as electronic device use has expanded beyond simply texting, and legislation regulating electronic device use while driving is inconsistent in content and implementation. For example, many states currently prohibit texting while driving, but don't address other functions of portable and in-vehicle electronic devices. The effectiveness of current distracted driving legislation, such as primary handheld bans and texting bans, is unknown. This confusion may lead to the continued perception among drivers that it is acceptable to use electronic devices while driving. Therefore, there is a need to systematically examine relevant existing legislation and enforcement practices. The objectives of this research are to (1) examine the essential components of current state and provincial legislation (e.g., language, penalties, sanctions) used to address distracted driving while using electronic devices; (2) evaluate the benefits and impediments associated with enacting, enforcing, and adjudicating texting and hands-free legislation; and (3) develop model legislation to deter distracted driving while using electronic devices. The research should address a broad range of topics related to driving while using electronic devices such as, but not limited to, the following: (1) Determine how each state and Canadian province defines electronic devices; (2) Identify novel strategies and approaches to reduce distracted driving while using electronic devices; (3) Identify and evaluate existing public awareness strategies; (4) Enforcement difficulties; (5) Adjudication dismissals; (6)  Impacts of technology (e.g., automatic in-cab blocking of driver access, lane-keeping, collision avoidance); (7) Individual, state, and regional characteristics that may influence driver use of electronic devices; and (8) Privacy implications for enforcement. The Behavioral Traffic Safety Cooperative Program (BTSCRP) is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can be realistically accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposer’s current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective. A kick-off teleconference of the research team and BTSCRP shall be scheduled within 1 month of the contract’s execution. The work plan must be divided into two phases with tasks, with each task described in detail.  Phase 1 will consist of information gathering as described in Objective Criteria (1), culminating in the submission of an interim report. The interim report will describe the work completed in Phase 1 and provide an updated work plan for the Phase 2 tasks. There must be a face-to-face meeting scheduled with BTSCRP to discuss the interim report.  No work shall be performed on Phase 2 without BTSCRP approval.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $250000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project BTS-03

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Behavioral Traffic Safety Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Governors Highway Safety Association

    444 N. Capitol Street, NW, Suite 722
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, D.C.  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Rogers, William

  • Start Date: 20180828
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01654281
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project BTS-03
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Dec 18 2017 3:03PM