Effectiveness of distracted driving countermeasures: A review of the literature

Arnold, L. S., Benson, A. J., Tefft, B. C., Barragan, D., Jin, L., Kolek, S., & Horrey, W. J.
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

The objective of this research was to review current scientific evidence concerning the effectiveness of existing and emerging distracted driving countermeasures. A literature search was conducted in April 2019 using PubMed, Transport Research International Documentation (TRID), PsycARTICLES, PsycINFO, and PsycEXTRA databases to identify articles published between 2010 and 2019. The search included key words related to transportation modes and distraction. A total of 102 articles were included in the review.

Of the 102 articles identified, 39 addressed educational or behavioral countermeasures, 43 considered legislative countermeasures, 18 had technological countermeasures, and three related to enforcement countermeasures. Results revealed that awareness campaigns were one of the more researched approaches to educating audiences about distracted driving. This countermeasure primarily utilized posters, demonstrations, guest speakers, video presentations, and mass emails. They were typically evaluated through before and after treatment surveys and monitoring driving behavior. Legislative countermeasures pertained to one or more of the following categories: all-driver handheld cellphone use bans, all-driver texting bans, and teen/intermediate license complete cellphone use bans. Research has shown primary bans on handheld cellphone use were more effective than secondary bans. Technology countermeasures were widely studied, specifically phone-based blocking technology which determines when a vehicle is in motion and blocks calls or notifications during that time. Studies reported these technologies had positive impacts in decreasing phone use while driving. However, this technology was limited in that it is typically a mobile application which can be easily overrided or deleted. Lastly, enforcement countermeasures primarily consisted of high visibility enforcement (HVE). The three studies on this topic showed decreases in handheld phone use were observed in intervention and comparison areas where HVE occurred for handheld cellphone use.

Overall this review of distracted driving countermeasures highlighted the effectiveness of countermeasures based on their primary approach (i.e., technology, enforcement, legislation).  Given the limited resources available to prevent distracted driving, it is important to understand the effectiveness of various countermeasures that may be considered for implementation.


Arnold, L. S., Benson, A. J., Tefft, B. C., Barragan, D., Jin, L., Kolek, S., & Horrey, W. J. (2019). Effectiveness of Distracted Driving Countermeasures: A Review of the Literature.