CPH Doctoral Candidate’s Distracted Driving Research Creating Milestones
Incidents of car accidents increase from four to 24 times when the driver is distracted, according to a recent study from the College of Engineering at the University of Oregon published in the Journal of Transportation Safety and Security. Eating, drinking, adjusting the radio controls, listening to directions, and changing a CD all are considered driving distractions—but with 60% of drivers who also are talking on the phone while on the road at any given time, our—and their—lives are at risk.
These statistics should seem like a no-brainer—but it is not always easy to convince the public, the government or lobbyists of the facts. CPH graduate student, Jaime Shuster, MPH, MA, has researched traumatic brain injury and sleep deprivation and served on the State of Ohio Injury Prevention Partnership that helped push through the return to play and return to learn legislation for students with concussive injuries. In fact, her master’s thesis developed the animal model that tested this phenomenon and led to the findings that the leading cause of traumatic brain injury is car accidents.
Her research also indicated that, after the release of the first QWRTY keyboard on the Blackberry device in 2005, car crashes increased. This led to increased legislation mandating the use of hands-free devices, however, says Shuster, “We are not seeing the impact of the legislation we thought we would.”
The major cause of distracted driving still remains a problem, so Jaime has embarked on another study to determine if the public service announcements created to inform the public of the dangers of talking and driving are impactful or if they should be redesigned to communicate more effectively and/or reach demographics that are being missed.