Did COVID-19 Mandates Influence Driver Distraction Behaviors? A Case Study in New Jersey

The global pandemic, Coronavirus (COVID), impacts almost everything, and human driving behavior is no exception. Since its breakdown in March 2020, transportation researchers have pondered on this matter to investigate the impact of COVID on drivers' travel behavior. Most of these studies are self-reported surveys, 'before and during' crash analyses, and short-duration observational studies. With a wider scope from an observational lens, the authors aim to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on drivers' distraction behaviors from an extensive observational database of distracted driving in New Jersey. A moving observational vehicle equipped with mounted cameras was utilized to collect the drivers' behavior across the high crash corridors and important highways in New Jersey. Samples collected during the COVID mandates and the post-COVID period were analyzed to assess the impact of COVID on drivers' distraction behavior at various temporal setups and roadway geometry. The results indicate a significant increase in cellphone use, eating, and fidgeting/grooming during the post-COVID period. However, behaviors like radio/reaching objects and talking to passengers decreased significantly after COVID. Utilizing the Mann-Whitney U test, this study conducted significance tests to identify the impacts of various temporal and geometric roadway features on each distraction type. Summer season, toll roads and roads with no signal had reduced distraction during the post-COVID compared to the COVID period. Both COVID and post-COVID period showed significant patterns of change of driver behavior within the temporal variables and road geometry. This research's findings would enable comprehension of human behavioral change for COVID mandates.


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  • Accession Number: 01900806
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Nov 28 2023 10:39AM