All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Nir Menachemi

Advisory Committee Members

Justin Blackburn

Michael Morrisey

Leonard Nelson

Bisakha Sen

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2013

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) School of Public Health

Abstract

ABSTRACT This three-paper dissertation addresses gaps in the literature focused on distracted driving and the impact of regulations aimed at reducing its prevalence. With the widespread proliferation of mobile phone usage and more sophisticated in-vehicle entertainment and information systems, it is now commonplace for drivers to engage in non-driving activities (also referred to as "secondary tasks") while driving. It is widely believed that distracted driving is positively related to motor vehicle crashes and other undesirable driving outcomes. This dissertation specifically focuses on three topics: (1) the nature of the distracted driving literature given the numerous secondary tasks, driving performance outcomes, and study settings examined and used by researchers, (2) the impact of texting messaging regulations on motor vehicle crash-related fatalities, and (3) the impact of text messaging regulations on motor vehicle crash-related hospitalizations. The first study in this dissertation is a systematic review of studies that examined the relationship between selected distracted driving activities and various driving performance outcomes. It quantifies the proportion of existing studies that have focused on specific distracting activities (mobile phone use, cigarette smoking, listening to music, etc.) and specific driving performance outcomes, (e.g. crashes, injuries, fatalities, following distance). The first paper also identifies the types of studies that are more likely to find detrimental relationships between secondary tasks and driving performance outcomes. The second paper in this dissertation examines whether states that have prohibited text messaging while driving have seen decreases in motor vehicle crash-related fatality counts. Because text messaging restrictions are nuanced across states, this paper will additionally determine whether more stringent and comprehensive restrictions result in the greatest decreases in fatality counts. The third paper of this dissertation will determine whether states with primarily enforced text messaging restrictions have seen decreases in motor vehicle crash-related hospitalization counts.

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