Educating Teenage Drivers in the Pacific Northwest Regarding the Dangers of Distracted Driving

Joint Project with Oregon State University (Lead), University of Washington, Washington State University, University of Idaho
Driver distraction can be defined as the diversion of driver attention away from the driving task, and it can result from factors both within and outside of the vehicle (Sheridan, 2004).  It can include anything that distracts a driver from the primary task of driving and has been categorized as follows: visual (e.g., reading a map), auditory (e.g., listening to a conversation), biomechanical (e.g. tuning a radio), and cognitive (e.g. 'being lost in thought,' and 'looking but not seeing') (Ranney et al., 2000).  Most distractions are actually a combination of these, thus it may be more useful to categorize distractions according to the task that drivers are engaged in while driving (rather than the combination of the forms of distractions).  For example, cell phones are associated with cognitive, auditory, biomechanical, and potentially, visual distractions.