Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as “any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system - anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.”

Researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s have done extensive research on distracted driving and traffic injuries, with an emphasis on texting while driving including:

  • Exploring the legislative and technological solutions for distracted driving using state and national databases:
    • Universal handheld phone bans for all age drivers are associated with reduced phone calls for drivers 16-24 years old
    • There are low rates of enforcement of laws targeting phone use while driving, particularly for texting and young-driver phone use
  • Uncovering demographic and regional differences in traffic safety-related injuries and policies:
    • Handheld calling bans are more effective among females than males
    • Differences in traffic injuries between female/male and urban/rural regarding walking behaviors and pedestrian injuries

For information specific to teen driving (like graduated driver licensing/GDL laws and seatbelt use), please see CIRP’s page on teen driving.

For media interviews with Dr. Motao Zhu about distracted driving, please contact Nationwide Children’s Media Relations.

Additional Distracted Driving Resources

  • Texting/Emailing While Driving Among High School Students in 35 States, United States, 2015
  • Distracted Driving: Why Parents Should Model Safe Behavior on the Road
  • Cellphone Legislation and Self-Reported Behaviors Among Subgroups of Adolescent U.S. Drivers
  • Risk Perceptions of Cellphone Use While Driving: Results from a Delphi Survey
  • Hand-held cell phone use while driving legislation and observed driver behavior among population sub-groups in the United States
  • The association between handheld phone bans and the prevalence of handheld phone conversations among young drivers in the United States
  • Who actually receives cell phone use while driving citations and how much are these laws enforced among states? A descriptive, cross-sectional study