The National Academies

BTSCRP BTS-03 [Final]

Examining the Implications of Legislation and Enforcement on Electronic Device Use While Driving

  Project Data
Funds: $250,000
Research Agency: Westat
Principal Investigator: Amy Benedick
Effective Date: 3/13/2018
Completion Date: 4/3/2020
Comments: Published as BTSCRP Research Report 1

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 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.
The final deliverables will include (1) a final report documenting the entire project, incorporating all other specified deliverables of the research; (2) an electronic presentation on the guide that can be tailored for specific audiences; (3) a webinar to inform practitioners of the research results; (4) a presentation on the project to the GHSA Executive Board or at the GHSA annual meeting; (5) a one-page electronic document for legislators to help inform legislation; (6) model press release information, including social media messaging, for various driver populations; (7) an electronic presentation for law enforcement regarding effective enforcement methods and strategies; (8) the model legislation to deter distracted driving while using electronic devices; and (9) recommendations on needs and priorities for additional research. Proposers may recommend additional deliverables and presentations to support the project objective.
STATUS: Revised final report received 9/14/2020.

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