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Distracted Driving

Distracted Driving

In 2020-2021, the AAA Road Safety Research Program’s priority focus area will be the topic of ‘distracted driving’.

Distracted driving plays a large role in the number of road crashes and subsequent road fatalities and injuries in Australia and globally. Research has shown that in Australia, distraction is the main contributing factor in approximately 16% of serious casualty road crashes and also suggests that distracted driving is as dangerous, if not more dangerous than drink driving. It is a serious problem on Australian roads.

Driver distraction can be understood as any circumstance where the driver is diverting attention away from critical activities for safe driving towards another competing activity. Distraction can be cognitive or mental (the mind is engaged with non-driving related tasks), visual (taking eyes of the road), auditory (noise that diverts attention), or manual (taking hands off the vehicle controls).

Distraction causes increased reaction time (including braking), impairs a driver’s ability to maintain speed and lane position, and impacts the operational efficiency of traffic, bringing with it the potential to seriously and negatively impact a broad range of road users.

The AAA Road Safety Research Program is looking to fund research that will help us to better understand the scope of the problem, understand what causes distraction, what countermeasures are effective and innovative solutions to tackle this serious road safety problem.

Current distracted driving research

Distracted driving literature review

To support the AAA Road Safety Research Program’s research into distracted driving, the AAA commissioned a foundational piece of work to scope the distracted driving literature and policy landscape/s that consider the following key themes related to distracted driving: Human behaviour, policy and regulation, technology, and legal, enforcement and compliance frameworks.

The literature review included a thematic review of the international literature as well as:

  • the identification, comparison, and assessment of the efficacy of distracted driving legislative/regulatory / policy frameworks currently operating in either Australian jurisdictions or comparable overseas countries (for heavy and light vehicles).
  • the identification of recent distracted driving countermeasures in Australia and an assessment of any evaluations of such
  • a list /summary table of key researchers/research organisations in Australia and comparable overseas countries that are working in distracted driving and their affiliations and areas of expertise.

The AAA was very pleased to award the work to Criminology Institute at Griffith University. The team consisted of Dr Lyndel Bates, Margo Van Felius and Marina Alexander. The final report was professional, thorough, and comprehensively synthesised the distracted driving literature and current policy landscape.

Current Distracted Driving Research Opportunities

The AAA is releasing a new Request for Proposal as part of its Road Safety Program.  This new research project aims to develop a method to evaluate the distractibility of human machine interfaces (HMI) in modern and future vehicles in the Australian market under Australian conditions.

The project will be undertaken in two phases – a feasibility phase and major project phase.  This feasibility study phase will propose a research plan/study design to undertake the major research project and assess the viability and effectiveness of said plans/designs.  The outcomes of the feasibility study will be used by the AAA and its Board to ensure confidence in the research plan, methodologies, timings, and budget for the major project.

Funding of $35,000 is available to the successful applicant to undertake the feasibility study.  The feasibility study will need to be finalised by 10 January 2022 to enable the findings to be presented to the AAA Board meeting in March 2022, at which point the Board will decide on funding of the major project phase.  Pending Board approval in March 2022, it is anticipated that the major project will begin in July 2022.

The AAA is inviting proposals from researchers with extensive experience in this field. Project proposals are to be received by the AAA at the email address: [email protected] and must be received by 5pm (AEST) 26th July 2021.

The AAA will be hosting an information session for interested parties on the 8th of July at 2:00PM (AEST) via video conference.  The information session will focus on working with the AAA, the AAA’s expectations, contracting, reporting requirements, and will provide an opportunity for interested parties to clarify any aspect of this request for proposal.  If you would like to attend, please send me an email to [email protected].