Driver inattention is a significant contributor to traffic-related injury. A 2006 naturalistic driving study estimated that 78 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near crashes involved some form of driver inattention.
Currently, there is a rush to pass laws to regulate or ban the use of electronic devices while driving, a behavior that is known to reduce driver attention and performance. Some local jurisdictions in Washington State, however, have focused on the outcome (driver inattention), rather than the cause. This project will study distracted driving and inattentive driving laws and their effectiveness at reducing traffic injury by: evaluating the effectiveness of laws targeted at handheld phone use, texting, and young drivers at reducing traffic injury; evaluating the effectiveness of different fines and enforcement levels of inattentive driving laws at reducing traffic injury; and, comparing the effectiveness of distracted and inattentive driving laws at reducing traffic injury.