National Academies Press: OpenBook

Using Electronic Devices While Driving: Legislation and Enforcement Implications (2021)

Chapter: Chapter 4 - Conclusions and Future Research Needs

« Previous: Chapter 3 - Development of Deliverables to Share Best Practices
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Conclusions and Future Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Using Electronic Devices While Driving: Legislation and Enforcement Implications. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26082.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Conclusions and Future Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Using Electronic Devices While Driving: Legislation and Enforcement Implications. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26082.
×
Page 36
Page 37
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Conclusions and Future Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Using Electronic Devices While Driving: Legislation and Enforcement Implications. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26082.
×
Page 37
Page 38
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Conclusions and Future Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Using Electronic Devices While Driving: Legislation and Enforcement Implications. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26082.
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Page 38

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35 4.1 Conclusions Based on the review of existing electronic device legislation and related literature, discus- sions with key stakeholders, and feedback from the project panel, a series of deliverables were developed to share best practices. The deliverables present customized information for different target audiences and include model legislation; presentations for law enforcement, researchers, and practitioners; a highlight document for legislators; and content for a model press release. Findings from the review in the first phase of the study directly influenced the development of the deliverables. Based on information shared by jurisdictions regarding challenges develop- ing and enforcing electronic device use laws, the language of the model law was designed to minimize multiple interpretations, and the components of the law were clearly defined. The presentations emphasized the importance of coalition building and the roles of all of the dif- ferent stakeholders in enacting, enforcing, and publicizing an electronic device use law. This aligns with the recommendations made by representatives from jurisdictions that succeeded in revising their laws. The presentation for law enforcement outlines a variety of enforcement challenges shared by the jurisdictions, as well as suggested strategies and practices. Press releases and media materials the jurisdictions provided, as well as best practices, were used to develop the model press release document. Overall, the materials developed for this project were designed to pro- mote knowledge and awareness and serve as the basis for a toolkit on electronic device use legislation, education, and enforcement. 4.2 Future Research Needs Based on the Phase 1 findings and the lessons learned in developing the Phase 2 deliverables, the authors identified potential future research needs and possible forthcoming action items: • Better understand the effectiveness of hands-free laws in preventing distracted driving crashes. At the time of writing, there was a strong push for states to pass hands-free laws; however, research on the effectiveness of these laws is limited. There is also a lack of informa- tion with regard to the benefit of a hands-free law in contrast to banning other behaviors such as texting or handheld cell phone use. For example, the National Safety Council promotes a program encouraging motorists to drive “phone-free” and avoid what is known as inatten- tion blindness since, even when looking out the windshield, “[drivers] can miss up to 50% of what’s around them when talking on a hands-free cell phone” (National Safety Council 2012). Additional research, such as naturalistic studies of drivers as well as research with drivers in simulated or controlled test track scenarios, may prove helpful to legislators and other C H A P T E R 4 Conclusions and Future Research Needs

36 Using Electronic Devices While Driving: Legislation and Enforcement Implications stakeholders interested in promoting these types of law changes. Concurrently, research that reviews injury rates, including injury severity, for different types of electronic device use laws may contribute to an understanding of the dangers associated with distracted driving and the effectiveness of the laws. • Evaluate the effectiveness of electronic device use laws with respect to fines and penalties. Possible research may include collecting and analyzing data to better understand the effect of the law on electronic device use while driving, specifically with respect to distracted driving and electronic device use crashes, injuries, and fatalities. Evaluating the effects of different components of the law, such as incremental fines and penalties, might better inform stake- holders to assist in making their case for enacting or revising legislation. While a number of jurisdictions have incremental penalties or incremental fines, the authors found that there has been no evaluation of the effectiveness of this measure to date. Several jurisdictions indicated that the incremental method may have some flaws that need to be addressed due to delays in the system with respect to processing citations and that this may have an impact on the effectiveness of the approach. In addition, the research also identified a lack of infor- mation on the effects of unique penalty measures, such as license suspension, on electronic device use. • Evaluate the effectiveness of outreach and education efforts on electronic device use laws. While many of the jurisdictions had some form of outreach or education on the dangers of electronic device use while driving, it was often limited by funding. As such, most jurisdictions only conduct outreach efforts on this topic during April, which is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Additionally, few jurisdictions indicated that they tracked their outreach efforts to better understand their reach and impact. Future research could identify strategies for developing partnerships to increase the funding and breadth of the message and identify- ing and testing possible evaluation methods for assessing effectiveness. • Examine the effectiveness of using crash, citation, and observational data to identify target audiences. Jurisdictions often use crash, citation, and observational data to identify routine offenders for outreach and enforcement. Information gained from evaluating the utility of these methods to reduce distracted driving would be beneficial for stakeholders deciding how to direct or redirect their efforts. • Evaluate approaches other than legislation to reduce distracted driving. Additional research to evaluate the effectiveness of different types of approaches to reduce distracted driving could include a review of educational methods such as targeted public outreach or teen education efforts on the topics of distracted driving and electronic device use. Com- paring different strategies within and across jurisdictions would help provide further guidance on best practices to prevent electronic device use. This research could be increasingly important as jurisdictions implement more rigorous legislation and look for additional methods to reduce electronic device use while driving. Another potential approach to reduce distracted driving could be a review of technological capabilities, such as cell phone applications or digital interventions. • Develop and evaluate a toolkit aimed at enacting legislation and targeted public outreach programs and instrumentation in a demonstration state. An in-depth review of each phase of implementation, from legislation through public outreach and enforcement, may pro- vide further insights on the needs of jurisdictions interested in developing more rigorous programming to prevent electronic device use while driving. The accompanying evaluation could include observational data, a review of crashes and injuries, and a review of the public’s awareness of related legislation. • Review new technologies to identify necessary revisions to the model law and accompanying materials developed under this project. Jurisdictions indicated that electronic device use laws require periodic adjustment to reflect technological developments. For example, introduction of new applications or hardware may affect the types of restrictions necessary for electronic

Conclusions and Future Research Needs 37 devices. Ongoing or periodic review of new technologies will support efforts in the jurisdic- tions to maintain up-to-date legislation as well as public education efforts. • Explore the use of photo enforcement (or other technology) of handheld laws to aid in enforcement efforts. In addition to research needs, it is important to share project findings with stakeholders. Ways to share the findings could include: • Conduct a workshop or webinar with the states to discuss project findings. Workshops may include roundtable discussions specific to jurisdictions that are in different phases or with different needs, such as promotion of new legislation, improvements to enforcement, or education efforts. Similarly, a webinar can be tailored to different audiences. Evaluation tools such as surveys may be developed by an instructional designer to assess how the training product is received by the audience. • Obtain stakeholder feedback on the model legislation and other project deliverables. Possible stakeholders are law enforcement personnel, state legislators, state highway safety office employees, transportation safety advocates, first responders, insurance companies, federal agencies (U.S. DOT, NHTSA, Transport Canada, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the National Traffic Law Center, and the National Safety Council. Use of a short evaluation survey can assist with collection of stakeholder feedback via a uniform method. In addition to stakeholders from a variety of national agencies and organizations, feedback from stakeholders at the state and provincial level has the potential to enhance the utility of the materials. It is suggested that feedback from jurisdictions be collected immediately following delivery as well as at additional times (e.g., at 3, 6, and 12 months). Extended measures help to gauge public response over time. The authors suggest revisiting and updating the materials based on the feedback. • Targeted outreach to encourage adoption and use of stakeholder materials. This may include presentation at events such as the Governor’s Highway Safety Association Annual Meeting and the Distracted Driving Summit, as well as via partners such as federal agencies, the National Safety Council, IACP, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

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Distracted driving is a complex and ever-increasing risk to public safety on roadways. Drivers’ use of electronic devices significantly diverts human attention resources away from the driving task. The enforcement community faces significant challenges as electronic device use has expanded beyond simply texting or talking. Legislation regulating electronic device use while driving is inconsistent in content and implementation.

The TRB Behavioral Traffic Safety Cooperative Research Program's BTSCRP Research Report 1: Using Electronic Devices While Driving: Legislation and Enforcement Implications presents the results of an examination of the current state and provincial legislation on electronic device use while driving; evaluates the benefits and impediments associated with enacting, enforcing, and adjudicating electronic device use; and proposes model legislation and educational materials that can be used by relevant stakeholders to enact a law and educate key individuals on the importance of the law.

Supplemental the report is a presentation for law enforcement.

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