FAQs about the Distracted Driving Phase II Report

Who conducted the research?
The research was conducted by Dr. Jane Stutts, et al. at the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center in Chapel Hill.
Who funded the research?
The study was funded by a grant from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety based in Washington, D.C.
What prior research into distracted driving has been conducted by UNC Highway Safety Research Center?
This is the second phase of a research project on driver distraction completed by the UNC Highway Safety Research Center. The first phase was published as “The Role of Driver Distraction in Traffic Crashes” in May 2001 and released through the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
What was different about this phase of the study?
Whereas the previous phrase had analyzed crash reports and crash data to study driver distraction, this phase was a first-of-its-kind study that placed video cameras in vehicles to record driver behavior, cabin activity and road conditions.
How was the video footage collected?
Researchers installed miniature video cameras in the cars of 70 volunteers, equally distributed by gender and age. Half of the participants were from Pennsylvania and the other half from North Carolina. Each unit included 3 lenses, one aimed at the driver’s seat, one aimed at the passenger cabin of the car and one aimed forward to capture the road in front of the vehicle.
How was the research analyzed?
Videotape data was analyzed for driver behaviors and for contextual variables such as weather, highway conditions, and whether the vehicle was stopped or moving.
How frequently were drivers distracted from the roadway?
Drivers were engaged in some form of potentially distracting activity up to 16.1 percent of the total time their vehicles were moving.
What were the general findings of the research?
The study showed that distractions are very common in everyday driving, and most of the driver distractions are neither new nor technological.
What driving distraction affected nearly all participants?
All subjects manipulated vehicle controls and nearly all reached for objects in the vehicle. Almost as many manipulated the sound system or were distracted by objects or events outside the vehicle.
What other activities were common?
Approximately one-third of subjects used a cell phone while driving. Forty percent engaged in reading or writing.
What about passengers in the vehicle?
Child passengers were about four times, and infants about eight times, more likely to cause distraction than adult passengers.
Did study participants take any precautions to prevent driving while distracted?
Drivers were more likely to engage in most of the distracting activities while the car was not in motion.