Adolescents' perspectives on distracted driving legislation

Academic Article


  • Purpose: Distracted driving is a growing global epidemic, with adolescent drivers reporting frequent engagement in distracted driving behaviors. Public health initiatives and legislative efforts designed to decrease the prevalence of these unwanted driving behaviors have demonstrated small, but significant reductions in crash risk. Non-compliance is a known problem among drivers of all ages, but may be especially problematic for novice, adolescent drivers. Using a construct from the Health Belief Model, the relations between demographic factors, perceived threat to safety, and peer influences were investigated with adolescents' support for three types of distracted driving legislation regarding: (a) reading or sending text messages/emails while driving; (b) hand-held cell phone use while driving; and (c) using non-driving-related-in-vehicle (NDIV) technology while driving. Investigating adolescents' perceptions provides an opportunity to understand distracted driving enforcement and legislation. Methods: Three hundred and seventy-nine adolescents aged 15–19 (M = 16.12, SD = 0.56) were recruited from public high schools. Demographics, perceptions, and support regarding distracted driving were assessed using self-report surveys. Statistical analyses included bivariate correlations and adjusted odds ratios to investigate influences of adolescent support for distracted driving legislation. Results: Female adolescents were at 2 times greater odds of supporting a law against texting/emailing while driving compared to male adolescents. Greater perceived threat to safety was associated with all three types of distracted driving legislation (aOR = 1.10, 1.33). Minimal association was found with peer influences. Conclusions: Perceived threat to safety and gender were associated with legislative support in adolescents. Practical application: Interventions and public health campaigns that incorporate elements related to perceived threat may be more successful with female adolescent drivers than male adolescents. Future experimental research will help to determine what factors affect adolescents' perspectives on distracted driving to promote compliance with related legislation.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Pope CN; Mirman JH; Stavrinos D
  • Start Page

  • 173
  • End Page

  • 179
  • Volume

  • 68