Distracted driving: What research shows and what states can do

Williams-Bergen, E., Hedlund, J., Sprattler, K., Ferguson, S., Marti, C., Harsha, B., Adkins, J., and Harper, V.
Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA)

This US literature review examined the frequency of distraction among drivers as well as ways that distraction affects driver performance. It also explored the effects of distraction on crash risk and effective countermeasures for distracted driving with the aim of providing guidance to states about what strategies can be put in place to reduce distracted driving. Based on an extensive review of literature, authors proposed steps that employers, the automobile industry, and the federal government can take to decrease distracted driving.

The report highlighted that laws banning hand-held cell phones were effective to reduce frequency of use by approximately half when laws were first implemented. Although hand-held cell phone use increased subsequently, these laws did appear to have had some long-term effect. In addition, high-visibility cell phone and texting law enforcement campaigns reduced cell phone use immediately after the campaign, and longer-term effects were unknown at the time the report was published. The report also encouraged jurisdictions to enact cell phone and texting bans for novice drivers as novices are the highest-risk drivers. It was noted that a cell phone ban supported other novice driver restrictions included in state graduated licensing programs and helped parents manage their teenage drivers. The need to implement distracted driving communication programs, and help employers develop and implement distracted driving policies and programs was also noted. The benefits and limitations regarding the implementation of each of these strategies were also discussed.

Williams-Bergen, E., Hedlund, J., Sprattle, K., Ferguson, S., Marti, C., Harsha, B. & Harper, V. (2011). Distracted driving: What research shows and what states can do. Governors Highway Safety Association, Tech. Rep.