Research Papers

Reducing Driver Distraction via Mobile App Technology

Version 1
Date added June 28, 2017
Downloaded 0 times/fois
Category 2017 CARSP XXVII Toronto
Tags Research and Evaluation, Session 7A
Author/Auteur Meera Paleja
Stream/Volet Research and Evaluation
Slidedeck Presentation Only (no paper submitted)



Distracted driving is the leading contributor to fatal car accidents in Ontario. Although most drivers agree that smartphone use while driving can be harmful, many admit to engaging in this problematic behaviour. Research in the behavioural sciences suggests that smartphone use while driving can be attributed to at least two cognitive factors: overconfidence in one’s own attentional capacities, and self -control limitations. The latter is reflective in drivers’ inability to avoid temptation when faced with a smartphone alert or notification. Our behavioural insights approach aims to target the behaviour at the site of temptation by limiting alerts on individua ls’ phones via a mobile application. Several mobile apps exist that detect when a vehicle is in motion and will automatically restrict incoming text messages and other alerts (passenger override features are available for when the user is not driving). Our objective is to encourage download and use of these apps. The program is directed towards drivers in Ontario who are smartphone users. Our project will examine interventions to encourage uptake of these mobile apps by drivers. Currently, the Ontario Behavioural Insights Unit is working alongside our partners across government to develop these interventions. These interventions may include: 1. Behavioural Science “nudges”: Prompting downloads at citizen interaction points. 2. Behaviourally informed communications: Integration into driver’s education and testing. 3. Education: Recommendation to install app given when drivers receive a distracted driving fine. Through this/these intervention(s), we aim to increase the adoption and utilization of mobile apps that will limit alerts and notifications, and keep driver attention on the road. With widespread adoption and use, these apps may significantly reduce distraction-related collisions.

Meera Paleja