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“Maybe I will just send a Quick Text…” Two Studies to Reduce and Explain Drivers’ Distractions

Authors: Ole Aasvik
Report nr: 8586/2017
Language: English

Many people use cars all over the world. Since the introduction of cars, the number of accidents has steadily decreased in Norway. But traffic accidents are still one of the most common causes of death for adolescents worldwide. Many of these accidents involve passenger cars and distracted driving. While there are many campaigns to improve safety in traffic, little research has looked at distractions. A recent report has investigated the occurrence and damage of distractions, and one article has looked at what predicts baseline differences in levels of distracted driving. However, no one has tested an intervention to decrease distracted behavior in traffic. Variables suggested by the Theory of Planned Behavior, personality traits, and demographic variables show utility in similar contexts and are all tested in this project. I conducted two randomized studies to investigate the nature of distractions in traffic, what factors predict baseline levels of distractions, and to test an intervention to reduce distractions. Both studies feature randomly assigned intervention and control groups. The first used a high school sample (n = 1100) from all over Norway as a part of a larger attitudinal campaign, while the second had a more general sample (n = 414). Both tested digital versions of implementation intentions designed as volitional help sheets and were recruited via email. The results from both studies suggest that there are some robust differences between people in how much they are distracted in everyday life, while some variables need further research. The first study suffered great attrition, which rendered any test of the intervention impossible. The second study had more statistical power, but failed to uncover any effects of the intervention. Reasons for this are discussed, along with points on the efficacy of digital interventions, the design of the volitional help sheets, and the design of the study. Notwithstanding the ineffectual interventions, these studies


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