Maria Vegega - Safe Kids Worldwide

National Efforts to Reduce
Distracted Driving
Maria E. Vegega
U.S. Department of Transportation
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Safe Kids Worldwide Childhood Injury
Prevention Conference
June 21, 2013
NHTSA is the lead federal agency responsible for
motor vehicle and traffic safety in the U.S.
•Vehicle safety
•Road user safety
•Data collection
•Truck & bus compliance
•CDL qualifications
Federal Efforts to Reduce Distracted
Driving: Overview
Background & Problem Identification
NHTSA’s Distracted Driving Program Plan
Guidelines and Legislation
Enforcement Approaches
What is Distracted Driving &
How Big of A Problem Is It?
Distracted driving occurs when drivers divert attention from
the driving task to focus on some other activity
Distractions are categorized into 3 types:
Tasks that require the driver to look away from the roadway
Tasks that require the driver to take a hand off the steering wheel
and manipulate a device
Task that involves thinking about something other than the
driving task (mental workload)
Crashes Involving a Distracted Driver
3,331 people died (10% of fatal crashes) and an estimated
387,000 people were injured (17% of injury crashes) in
crashes involving a distracted driver (2011 U.S. data)
The 15-19 year old age group had the largest proportion of
drivers distracted at the time of the fatal crash.
While these numbers are significant, they may not state the
true size of the problem, given the complexity of
2011 Observed Cell Phone Use
According to NHTSA’s 2011 National Occupant Protection Use
Survey (NOPUS):
5% of drivers were observed holding a cell
phone to their ear
Higher among 16-24 year old drivers (7 %) and female drivers (6%)
1.3% of drivers were observed visibly manipulating (texting) a
hand-held devices
Higher among 16-24 year old drivers (3.7%) and female drivers
2012 National Phone Survey on Distracted
Driving Attitudes and Behaviors
Almost half of drivers (49%) answers a call while driving
Almost 1 in 4 (23%) drivers place calls while driving
Similar for 16-20 year old drivers
Similar for 16-20 year old drivers (22%)
14% of drivers admit to sending texts/email while driving
71% of 16-20 year olds confirm sending texts/email while driving
What People Told Us
More drivers recognize the risk however,
drivers of all ages use their phones while
they are driving at least sometimes
“It’s the other driver’s fault” – As
passengers, almost all motorist
considered a driver who was texting as
very unsafe
Most drivers support bans on hand-held
cell phone use (74%) and texting while
driving (94%), and they approve fines of
$200 or higher for talking on cell phones
or texting while driving
What is NHTSA Doing to Address
Distracted Driving?
Driver Distraction Program Plan
 In April 2010 NHTSA released a
comprehensive driver distraction
This plan communicates NHTSA’s
priorities and four major initiatives
to meet driver distraction safety
Since 2009, the U.S. DOT has launched a variety of campaigns to
raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving:
Examples of Partnerships
Ad Council
Allstate Insurance
Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Consumer Reports
Governor’s Highway Safety Association
National Organization for Youth Safety (NOYS)
Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS)
Oprah Winfrey “No Phone Zone”
Seventeen Magazine
State Farm Insurance
Guidelines and Legislation
Regulations and Guidelines
Executive Order “Federal Leadership on Reducing Text
Messaging While Driving”
Sample State Law to Prohibit Texting While Driving
Hand-Held Bans for:
Commercial Truck and Bus Drivers
Motor Vehicle Operators Carrying Hazardous Materials
Railroad Operators
Limiting Distractions for Pilots in the Cockpit
Visual Manual Driver Distraction Guidelines for in-Vehicle
Electronic Devices
Visual Manual Driver Distraction Guidelines
for in-Vehicle Electronic Devices
 In April 2013, NHTSA released voluntary distraction guidelines that
encourage automobile manufacturers to limit the distraction risk
connected to electronic devices built into their vehicles.
 The guidelines include recommendations to limit the time a driver
must take his eyes off the road to perform any task to 2 seconds at a
time and 12 seconds total.
 Recommend disabling several operations unless the vehicle is
stopped and in park mode.
Federal Authorization
On July 6, 2012, President Obama signed into law P.L. 112141, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act
 MAP-21 funds surface transportation programs for fiscal years
(FY) 2013 and 2014
 MAP-21 makes available approximately $17.5 million in FY 2013
for states that have enacted and are enforcing anti-distracted
driving laws
 To qualify, a state must have primary laws prohibiting drivers
from texting while driving and youths from using cell phones
while driving
State Distracted Driving Laws
Hand-held Phone Use:
Text Messaging:
11 states, D.C., Puerto Rico,
Guam and the U.S. Virgin
Islands prohibit all drivers
from using hand-held cell
phones while driving
41 states, D.C., Puerto
Rico, Guam and the U.S.
Virgin Islands ban text
messaging for all drivers
(all but 4 have primary
An additional 6 states
prohibit text messaging by
novice drivers
3 states restrict school bus
drivers from texting.
All Driver Hand-held Phone Bans
Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
All Driver Texting Bans
Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
High Visibility Enforcement (HVE) Campaigns
 In April, 2009 NHTSA launched two pilot programs in Hartford,
Connecticut and Syracuse, New York to assess whether increased law
enforcement combined with media and news announcements over a
defined period of time could get distracted drivers to put down their
cell phones and focus on the road.
 These pilot programs were similar to previous efforts to curb drunk
driving and increase seat belt use among drivers.
 Results show that drivers will change their habits on cell phone use
when faced with strong laws, tough enforcement, and public
Distracted Driving Demo Final Results
(Hartford, CT)
Observed Hand-held Phone Use
The percentage of drivers observed
holding their phones to their ears
decreased from baseline to the end of
the fourth wave.
The reduction was significantly
greater in Hartford (from 6.8% to
2.9%) than the control site (from 6.6%
to 5.6%).
These changes represent a 57% drop
in observed cell phone use for the
Hartford site compared to a 15%
drop at the control site.
Distracted Driving Demo Final Results
(Syracuse, NY)
Observed Hand-held Phone Use
Fewer drivers in Syracuse were
observed holding cell phones
to their ears at the end of the
fourth wave (from 3.7% to
2.5%). This 32% decrease was
statistically significant.
In the control site, there was
also a significant 40%
reduction in observed handheld cell phone use from 5.0%
to 3.0%.
HVE Campaigns
 In summer 2012, California and Delaware received federal
support to test the effect of HVE on distracted driving over a
larger area.
 The California program takes place in the Sacramento valley
region comprising eight counties and 3.9 million residents, while
the Delaware program is being conducted statewide.
 NHTSA is undertaking research with Massachusetts and
Connecticut to develop and refine effective texting enforcement
What You Can Do?
 Lead by example!
 Turn off your electronic devices and put them out of reach before
you start to drive
 Speak up when you’re a passenger and your driver uses an
electronic device while driving
 Always wear your seat belt – seat belts are your best defense
against other unsafe drivers
 Educate others on the dangers of distracted driving
 Support the enactment of strong laws and policies banning
texting and hand-held phone use to let drivers know distracted
driving is a serious safety threat
 Work with partners such as advocacy groups, health
organizations, youth groups, schools, traffic safety agencies and law
enforcement agencies.
Visit for
comprehensive information
about distracted driving!
Thank you

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