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Int J Epidemiol. 2017 Feb 1;46(1):258-265. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyw234.

The effects of age on crash risk associated with driver distraction.

Author information

1
Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, 3500 Transportation Research Plaza, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA.
2
Department of Statistics, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA.

Abstract

Background:

Driver distraction is a major contributing factor to crashes, which are the leading cause of death for the US population under 35 years of age. The prevalence of secondary-task engagement and its impacts on distraction and crashes may vary substantially by driver age.

Methods:

Driving performance and behaviour data were collected continuously using multiple cameras and sensors in situ for 3542 participant drivers recruited for up to 3 years for the Second Strategic Highway Research Program Naturalistic Driving Study. Secondary-task engagement at the onset of crashes and during normal driving segments was identified from videos. A case-cohort approach was used to estimate the crash odds ratios associated with, and the prevalence of, secondary tasks for four age groups: 16-20, 21-29, 30-64 and 65-98 years of age. Only severe crashes (property damage and higher severity) were included in the analysis.

Results:

Secondary-task-induced distraction posed a consistently higher threat for drivers younger than 30 and above 65 when compared with middle-aged drivers, although senior drivers engaged in secondary tasks much less frequently than their younger counterparts. Secondary tasks with high visual-manual demand (e.g. visual-manual tasks performed on cell phones) affected drivers of all ages. Certain secondary tasks, such as operation of in-vehicle devices and talking/singing, increased the risk for only certain age groups.

Conclusions:

Teenaged, young adult drivers and senior drivers are more adversely impacted by secondary-task engagement than middle-aged drivers. Visual-manual distractions impact drivers of all ages, whereas cognitive distraction may have a larger impact on young drivers.

KEYWORDS:

SHRP2 Naturalistic Driving Study; case–cohort; distraction; driver behaviour; traffic crash risk

PMID:
28338711
DOI:
10.1093/ije/dyw234
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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