Impacts of Advanced Vehicle Technologies and Risk Attitudes on Distracted Driving Behaviors

by Adam Felts

Evelyn Schneider, a former student researcher at the AgeLab and researcher in psychology, is the lead author of a paper in Transportation Research Record on the intersection between new vehicle technologies, risk attitudes, and distracted driving behavior.

This research aimed to provide insights into the factors that contribute to an increased likelihood of distracted driving and enhancing an understanding of the effects of advanced vehicle technologies (AVT) on driver behavior.

Schneider’s study examined self-reported survey questionnaire data from a nationally representative sample of participants. The survey asked respondents about their propensity in engage in distracted driving behaviors, such as eating, grooming, or using their phone, the presence of advanced technologies in their vehicles, their self-perceptions of their risk attitudes and behaviors, and their perception of the risks of driving generally.

People’s general willingness to take risks and their self-assessment of their risky driving behavior were positively associated with a greater number of "DDBs" (distracted driving behaviors), but perceptions of the riskiness of driving generally were not significantly related to the overall number of DDBs that people reported engaging in. The presence of advanced vehicle technologies also  predicted distracted driving behavior. The presence of driver-assist and safety features did, however, lead to some degree of decreased distracted driving. Convenience features, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, were most likely to increase the risky behavior, highlighting the need for the design of AVT systems to minimize distracted driving while leveraging the benefits of technology.

Additionally, younger people, women, parents of teenagers, people who drove more frequently and for longer distances, and people living in urban areas were statistically more likely to engage in distracted driving behaviors.

AgeLab researchers Lisa D’Ambrosio, Chaiwoo Lee, and Joseph Coughlin were co-authors on the paper.

Learn more about the paper here.

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About the Author

Photo of Adam Felts
Adam Felts

Adam Felts is a researcher and writer at the MIT AgeLab. Currently he is involved in research on the experiences of family caregivers and the future of financial advice. He also manages the AgeLab blog and newsletter. He received his Master's in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Boston University in 2014 and his Master's of Theological Studies from Boston University in 2019.

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