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GHSA News Release

July 7, 2011

Contact: Jonathan Adkins
(202)789-0942, ext. 13
(202)669-9746, cell

Comprehensive Review of Distracted Driving Research Released

State Action Recommended But More Research Needed

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released the first comprehensive overview summarizing distracted driving research for state officials. The report considered research from more than 350 scientific papers published between 2000 and 2011.

GHSA produced the new report—Distracted Driving: What Research Shows and What States Can Do—with a grant from State Farm®. The report summarizes: what distracted driving is, how often drivers are distracted, how distraction impacts driver performance and crash risk, what countermeasures may be most effective and what states can do to reduce distracted driving.

“Despite all that has been written about driver distraction, there is still a lot that we do not know,” said GHSA Executive Director Barbara Harsha, who oversaw the report’s development. “Much of the research is incomplete or contradictory. Clearly, more studies need to be done addressing both the scope of the problem and how to effectively address it.”

The report outlines the following certainties:

Based on the existing research, the report urges states to implement the following countermeasures:

The report also lists countermeasures that states should consider, such as:

GHSA Executive Director Barbara Harsha stressed, “While distracted driving is an emotional issue that raises the ire of many on the road, states must take a research-based approach to addressing the problem. Until more research is conducted, states need to proceed thoughtfully, methodically and objectively.”

Harsha also noted that high visibility texting and hand-held cell phone enforcement demonstration projects in New York and Connecticut, funded by the states and the U.S. Department of Transportation and modeled after the Click It or Ticket seat belt program, are proving to be effective in helping to change motorist behavior. “Our report includes the preliminary results of these cell phone crackdowns, which have prompted dramatic declines in hand-held cell phone use and texting behind the wheel. The final results are expected shortly and should be considered as states move forward with education and enforcement initiatives.”

Distracted Driving: What Research Shows and What States Can Do was developed by GHSA. Eric Williams-Bergen, Science Librarian, St. Lawrence University, searched the distracted driving research. James Hedlund, Principal, Highway Safety North, summarized the research. Karen Sprattler, Principal, Sprattler Group, edited the report. Susan Ferguson, Principal, Ferguson International LLC, and Cheri Marti, former Director, Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety, reviewed the drafts.

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The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)® is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy, enhance program management and promote best practices. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit Find us on Facebook at