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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 5, 2017

Attitudes and behaviors related to distracted driving in college students: a need for interventions in adolescence

  • Corey H. Basch EMAIL logo , Sarah A. MacLean and Philip Garcia



One of the biggest contributors to distracted driving among young people in the United States is technology. The objective of this study was to describe distracted driving behaviors among college students, with a specific focus on attitudes towards and use of social media.


With written permission, a survey was adapted from the Distracted Driving Public Opinion Poll distributed by the National Safety Council. The survey comprised 43 questions assessing attitudes and behaviors. A total of 411 students enrolled in a personal health course were invited to complete the survey. In total 324 surveys were completed, resulting in a response rate of 79%.


Among students with a driver’s license, 95.2% reported engaging in distracted driving behaviors. The use of social media while driving was common, with 30.7% reporting that they glance at, read, or post to social media while driving, most commonly on Snapchat or Instagram. It was common for students to make or answer phone calls (72.0%), review or send text messages (54.6%), or glance at or read automatic notifications (43.3%). Almost all students (91.5%) reported that they believed a hands-free solution is safer than holding the phone while driving, but only 67.9% reported that they usually used a hands-free device. Students in a health major and students who drive in urban areas were more likely to engage in distracted driving behaviors.


These findings suggest a need for interventions, particularly those which target adolescents in an attempt to deter these behaviors as they transition into adulthood.


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Received: 2017-04-27
Accepted: 2017-06-08
Published Online: 2017-08-05

©2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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