223762 Inconsistent Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors Among College Students

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Theresa M. Enyeart Smith, PhD, CHES , Dept. of Health Sciences, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
Maria T. Wessel , James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
Background Distracted driving is a serious issue with many states enacting laws prohibiting cell phone use while driving. Cell phone use, including talking, texting, playing games, and looking up numbers are distractions. Other distracted driving behaviors include driving while fatigued, grooming, eating, changing music controls, and day dreaming, etc. According to studies, drivers do not believe that they are driving distracted (Horrey, W.L., Lesch, M.F., & Garabet, A., 2008).

Purpose The purpose of this project was to assess knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of university students to determine what risks, if any, they feel distracted driving may cause.

Methodology During the past two semesters Distracted Driving Awareness Day was conducted by Eta Sigma Gamma, Health Education Honor Society. A convenience sample of students completed a short survey on distracted driving and in turn received a fact sheet and favor for their participation.

Results and Conclusions A total of 229 students completed the survey. Many students reported distracted driving behaviors and results indicated inconsistent behavior with attitudes. For example, 58.3% of those who “Often” text and 63.2% of those who “Sometimes” text while driving felt that it is a “Very Risky” behavior. Most of the sample (91%) considered driving while tired or fatigued is risky yet almost half reported they often or sometimes engaged in this behavior.

Usefulness for Strengthening School Health These results are useful for strengthening university health promotion efforts to reduce distracted driving behaviors of students. Students know distracted driving is risky, yet they continue to practice these behaviors.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
At the end of the presentation participants will be able to: 1. Identify specific distracted driving behaviors that can impact highway safety. 2. Evaluate the inconsistency between positive knowledge and attitudes about distracted driving and continuing to practice of risky behaviors while driving. 3. Define health promotion strategies to reduce distracted driving behaviors.

Keywords: College Students, Behavior Based Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: My graduate degree, teaching experience and work as the Eta Sigma Gamma advisor qualify me for work on this project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.