Distracted Road Use: A Literature Review

Chan, M.
City of Edmonton, Office of Traffic Safety

This literature review contains a comprehensive overview of distraction among all road users including drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. It examines existing research literature on types of distraction and summarizes current legislation worldwide associated with distracted road use.

Based on a review of research literature, it revealed that distracted driving accounts for 20-30% of all motor vehicle collisions. Further, the majority of drivers are distracted as a result of conversing with passengers, talking on a cell phone, and external distractions. In addition, distracted walking (i.e., talking or texting on a cell phone or wearing headphones while listening to music) is the cause of approximately 1,500 injuries annually in the United States. Similarly, cell phone use is the cause of majority of distracted cycling injuries in both the Netherlands and Demark where cycling is a prominent form of transportation.

Based on the review of existing legislation, it is demonstrated that regression models have predicted that phone usage in jurisdictions with cell phone bans is lower five to eight years later than what would have been expected without a ban. Furthermore, high-visibility enforcement appears to be effective in reducing the use of cell phones (talking and texting) while driving even after the law has been in place for several years. Lastly, based on the overview of both existing research and legislation, five suggested strategies were identified to reduce distracted road use: education, enforcement, engineering, engagement, and evaluation.

Chan, M. (2016). Distracted road use: A literature review. Office of Traffic Safety: Edmonton, Alberta.