Adolescents’ Perspectives on Distracted Driving Legislation

Distracted driving is a growing global epidemic. Public health initiatives and legislative efforts designed to decrease the prevalence of distracted driving behaviors have demonstrated small, but significant reductions in distracted driving behaviors and drivers’ crash risk. Increased compliance with distracted driving provisions could enhance their effectiveness. Using the Health Belief Model as a guiding framework, the authors investigated associations among adolescents’ support for three types of distracted driving legislation and demographic factors, perceived threat to safety, and peer influences. Three hundred and seventy-nine adolescents, aged 15-19 (M=16.12, SD=0.56) were recruited from five public high schools in central Alabama (see Table 1). Support for distracted driving legislation was adapted from a traffic safety report: 1) a law against reading or sending text messages/emails while driving, 2) a law against using hand-held cell phones while driving for all ages, and 3) federal government regulation on NDIV technologies to prevent distraction. Answers were binary coded: oppose (somewhat and strongly oppose) and support (somewhat and strongly support). Perceptions on threat to personal safety from other’s distracted driving behavior and peer approval of distracted driving behaviors were measured on 4-point Likert scales. Questions were summed to derive a perceived threat and peer approval score; higher scores indicated stronger endorsement of threat perception and greater perceived peer approval. Bivariate correlations and adjusted odds ratios were used to evaluate the relationships among adolescents’ support for distracted driving legislation, demographic factors, perceived threat to safety, and peer influences. Correlations revealed the more threatening distracted driving behaviors were seen to personal safety, adolescents perceived it to be less acceptable by their peers (rs = p = 0.010). Females, compared to males, reported greater perceived threat to safety (p=0.02) and more peer acceptance (p=0.015). Regarding support for laws, 56% (n=213) of the total sample reported strong support for a law against reading or sending text messages/emails while driving. Females and were at two times greater odds of supporting said law (p=0.002) and for every one point increase in perceived threat to safety was associated with a 33% greater likelihood of supporting (p<0.001, see Table 2). A quarter of the total sample (n=93) reported strong support for a law against hand-held cell phone use for all ages while driving. For every one point increase in perceived threat that was a 24% greater likelihood of supporting the law (p<0.001). Lastly, only 17% (n=64) of the total sample strongly supported a proposed federal government regulation on NDIV technology. More perceived threat to safety (p=0.067) and less perceived peer acceptance (p=0.099) was marginally associated with greater odds of supporting a proposed federal government regulation on NDIV technology. Investigating adolescents’ perceptions and support provides an opportunity to better inform distracted driving enforcement and legislation. Public health campaigns that incorporate elements related to perceived threat to safety maybe more successful with female adolescent drivers than males. Future experimental research should assess behavioral change concepts such as perceived benefits and ecological contexts in conjunction with perceived threat to safety when developing interventions to assist with adolescents decision making process sand promote safe driving behaviors.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This paper was sponsored by TRB committee ANB30 Standing Committee on Operator Education and Regulation.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board

    ,    
  • Authors:
    • Pope, Caitlin Northcutt
    • Mirman, Jessica H
    • Stavrinos, Despina
  • Conference:
  • Date: 2019

Language

  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 6p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01697710
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 19-03656
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Dec 7 2018 9:35AM