The National Academies

BTSCRP BTS-09 [Active]

Influence of Infrastructure Design on Distracted Driving

  Project Data
Funds: $250,000
Staff Responsibility: William C. Rogers
Research Agency: Iowa State University
Principal Investigator: Shauna Hallmark
Effective Date: 7/25/2019
Completion Date: 6/30/2021
Comments: Research underway

Whether due to habitual behaviors or immediate deliberate decision-making, drivers engage in risky behaviors that shift attention away from the primary tasks of driving, increasing the likelihood of crashes. Traffic Safety Facts (NHTSA 2018) reported that 37,133 people were killed in crashes on U.S. roadways during 2017. Of these fatalities, 3,166 were in distraction-affected crashes, or 8.5% of total fatalities. The occurrence of distracted driving behaviors can be strongly influenced by features of the external world through which the person is driving. Some important features in this world are built structures, and it would be useful to determine the relationships between the presence, absence, location, or design of different built structures and the occurrence of distracted driving.
The objective of this research is to develop and test a conceptual safety framework for evaluating the association between distracted driver behaviors and roadway and roadside infrastructure.
The research should include, at a minimum, the following:
  • Reviewing research that describes the elements of driver distraction as related to roadway and roadside infrastructure;
  • Developing an operational definition of driver distraction;
  • Developing a working definition of infrastructure as it relates to the research objective;
  • Describing and evaluating existing public and private databases the could be used in the safety framework to evaluate the association between distracted driving behaviors and roadway and roadside infrastructure;
  • Defining, ranking, and justifying the prioritization of target populations for optimal safety outcomes;
  • Developing an infrastructure assessment toolbox (e.g., context, range of costs, implementation timeframes) for application in the safety framework;
  • Developing criteria and methods to evaluate distracted driver behavior and safety impacts; and
  • Demonstrating the efficacy of the conceptual safety framework using available databases.
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 realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' 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 conference call with 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 as determined by the proposer. Each phase must be organized by task, with each task described in detail. Phase 1 will consist of information gathering, culminating in the submission of an interim report describing the work completed in the Phase 1 tasks, an updated work plan for the Phase 2 tasks, and an outline of the safety framework. 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, at a minimum, will include: (1) a safety framework for evaluating the association between distracted driver behaviors and roadway and roadside infrastructure; (2) a final report documenting the entire project, incorporating all other specified deliverables of the research; (3) an electronic presentation of the key points of the research that can be tailored for specific audiences; (4) a webinar to inform practitioners of the research results; (5) presentations to the GHSA Executive Board and the GHSA annual meeting; (6) recommendations for additional research; and (7) a stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (see Special Note B for additional information).
STATUS: Research underway.

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