Replacement of distractions with other distractions: A propensity-based approach to estimating realistic crash odds ratios for driver engagement in secondary tasks

As Automated Vehicles (AVs) enter the fleet at lower levels of automated (SAE, 2018), the need for human drivers to remain engaged in the driving task will continue. Thus, understanding driver distraction and estimating the reduction in risk associated with removing distractions is important as AV technology develops. While previous research (e.g., Dingus et al., 2016) has estimated large odds ratios (i.e., 3–4) for using cell-phones while driving, countermeasures directed at reducing cell-phone use have not realized large crash reductions. One reason may be that drivers may replace cell-phone use with other risky activities and that odds ratios (ORs) have often compared cell-phone use to ideal driving rather than a realistic reference. Using data from the second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2), the authors developed two cell-phone propensity models, one with age and one without, to develop weights for events without cell phone use. Using these weights, the authors estimated the probability of engagement in a variety of tasks in place of cell-phone use. The authors also estimated weighted odds ratios for cell-phone use (all uses) and cell-phone talking only. Weighted ORs are lower than unweighted ORs and much lower than ORs compared to ideal driving. This is consistent with the idea that in practice, even if cell-phone bans are effective at reducing cell-phone use, they may not greatly reduce risk because drivers may replace cell-phone use with other distracting activities in the same situations in which they normally use cell phones while driving. The authors also discuss the influence of young drivers on the authors' results. Younger drivers in the dataset are more likely to use cell phones and thus are influential in the propensity model results.


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  • Accession Number: 01705021
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 29 2019 3:04PM