Nebraska saw a 13% increase in distracted driving related crashes from 2013 through 2020. Teens contributed to 31% of crashes statewide involving cellphones in 2019. Additionally, Nebraska’s crash record system only allows crash investigators to code one driver-contributing factor for each vehicle in a crash. Therefore, it is difficult for the state to capture complete data on distracted driving.
Through a grant from GHSA and General Motors, the Nebraska Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office (NDOT HSO) conducted research on distracted driving in partnership with Acusensus, an advanced imaging and artificial intelligence company.
Distracted Driving Data Collection
NDOT and Acusensus identified 16 locations across the state where the digital imaging equipment would be deployed. Data collection was conducted from October 21- 29 with cameras recording drivers for 60 minutes at each site.
Of the 4,829 cars observed, 435 (9%) were recorded as being distracted by cellphones or other devices. The data also showed that about 15% of drivers were not wearing seat belts.
Ongoing Project Impact
NDOT HSO highlighted their findings in a news release on January 4, 2023, which was covered by ten state newspapers, making more state residents aware of the dangers of distracted driving. They also shared the data with highway safety partners and advocates who are working to advance distracted driving legislation in the Nebraska Legislature. NDOT HSO will also use the data to develop and implement educational campaigns addressing the dangers of distracted driving with the goal of impacting behavior change and reducing social acceptance of this risky behavior.