Analysis of crash and survey data to identify young drivers' distractions in Kansas



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Kansas State University


Young drivers are over-represented in crashes when compared to other age group drivers. Distracted driving is one of the major causes of traffic crashes by young drivers. The objective of this study was to assess the hazards of distracted driving among teenage (15–20 year old) and young-adult (21–26 year old) drivers in Kansas. This study used five years of crash data from the Kansas Crash and Analysis Reporting System (KCARS) database from 2011 to 2015. A multinomial logit modeling was used to identify the odds that a driver with a certain type of distraction would be involved in one of the three most common crash types: rear-end, angular, and single-vehicle crashes. Furthermore, ordered logistic modeling was used to analyze the crash data to identify the odds of more severe injuries for teenage and young-adult distracted drivers and their passengers involved in crashes. Survey data was used to develop a structural equation model (SEM) to define the relationship among young drivers’ characteristics (e.g., participants’ socioeconomic and demographic status), attitudes, and behaviors associated with distracted driving and cell phone use while driving. Preliminary analysis showed that more than 12% of the total young drivers’ crashes were distraction-affected crashes. According to the multinomial logit model results, most distraction types for teenage and young-adult drivers are related to rear-end or angular collisions. However, when distracted by cell phones at night, teenage drivers had a greater probability of being involved in single-vehicle crashes. In addition, when teenage drivers drove with their peers as front-seat passengers and were distracted in/on vehicle or by other electronic devices, they were more likely to be involved in single-vehicle crashes. Young-adult drivers distracted in/on vehicle or by cell phones under different conditions such as while driving old or sport utility vehicles, on curved roads, or at intersections, they were more likely to be involved in single-vehicle or angular crashes. Whereas, when they were inattentive during the weekend, rear-end collisions were the most likely collision type. According to the results of the ordered logistic model, teenage and young-adult drivers were more likely to be severely injured in cell phone-related crashes. More specifically, female teenage drivers had a greater probability of being severely injured than male teenage drivers when they were distracted by a cell phone, inside the vehicle, or were inattentive. Young-adult drivers that were distracted on road construction work zones by a cell phone or inside the vehicle, they and their passengers had a greater likelihood of sustaining a severe injury. The SEM results revealed that teenage drivers are more prone than young-adult drivers to drive while distracted and are less likely to support the Kansas laws that ban cell phone use while driving. Also, the model results showed that young drivers who have been involved in crashes or near-crashes during the previous year are more likely to drive while distracted. These results indicate that distractions create threats to the lives of young Kansas drivers, their passengers, and other road users.



Young drivers, Distractions, Multinomial logistic modeling, Ordered logistic modeling, Structural equation model, Kansas

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Doctor of Philosophy


Department of Civil Engineering

Major Professor

Sunanda Dissanayake