News from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

The Robustness of HGN in SFSTs
To determine whether or not minor variations in procedure affect the validity of HGN tests, NHTSA examined variations in HGN administration through laboratory experiments and field data collection. The results of this study reveal that HGN is a robust phenomenon and minor procedural variations do not compromise the validity of the HGN examination. For a copy of the report, click here.

Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor's Manual
To download a copy of this document, click here.

Priorities and Strategies for Improving the Investigation, Use of Toxicology Results, and Prosecution of Drug-Impaired Driving Cases
In 2004 a panel of toxicologists, drug recognition experts, and prosecutors met to identify problems with the current system of prosecuting drug-impaired driving cases, from the point of detection through adjudication. This report, which contains their findings and recommendations, states that “DRE is the best currently available field tool for DUID enforcement.”

2005 Quick Facts
NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis has also released the 2005 version of Quick Facts . This version has been updated to reflect the most recent exposure information from the Federal Highway Administration and information about fatalities that involve drivers with BACs of .08 or more.

Law Enforcement Advanced DUI/DWI Reporting System (LEADRS)
With assistance from NHTSA, the Texas Municipal Police Association has developed a Law Enforcement Advanced DUI/DWI Reporting System (LEADRS), a web-based records management system designed specifically for DUI/DWI enforcement. The system is designed to be implemented on a state-by-state basis and has been shown to reduce the time to complete paperwork by more than 50 percent.

Recently Released Research Studies (Since August 2004)

Impaired Driving Research

The ABCs of BAC
A Guide to Understanding Blood Alcohol Concentration and Alcohol Impairment
This pamphlet describes the impairing effects of alcohol, discusses blood alcohol concentration levels, and provides information on impaired driving laws. The pamphlet has many potential audiences, including the general public. Amy Berning, (202) 366-5587, pamphlet. (DOT HS 809 844, February, 2005)

Breath Test Refusals in DWI Enforcement: An Interim Report
The percentage of drivers suspected of DWI who refuse to provide a breath test has been a problem in many states for years. With new, stronger laws being enacted, there has been a perception that the rate of breath test refusals has increased as offenders seek to documents breath test refusal laws and rates across the limited states. The report also discusses possible reasons why some states have high refusal rates, and it discusses potential solutions. Amy Berning, (202) 366-5599, Research Report and Traffic Tech. (DOT HS 809 876, August 2005)

Conforming Products List of Alcohol Screening Devices (CPL for ASDs)
NHTSA has published model specifications for alcohol screening devices in the Federal Register, and tests commercially available devices against those guidelines in its laboratory at the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, MA. At least once each year, the CPL for ASDs is updated and published in the Federal Register to include all new devices tested since its last publication. Jim Frank (202) 366-5593, Federal Register Notice. (December, 2005)

Motorcycle Safety Research

Evaluation of the Repeal of the Motorcycle Helmet Law in Florida
In 1997, Arkansas and Texas became the first states since 1983 to repeal laws requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets. An evaluation of the Arkansas and Texas repeals indicated that both led to decreases in helmet use and increases in head injury. In Arkansas, observed helmet use dropped from 97 percent to 52 percent with a corresponding increase in head injury. In Texas, observed helmet use dropped from 97 percent to 66 percent with a corresponding increase in head injury and medical costs per injured cyclists. Arkansas motorcyclist fatalities increased by 21 percent; Texas motorcyclist fatalities increased by 31 percent. A similar pattern of motorcyclist fatalities occurred in Kentucky and Louisiana after the motorcycle helmet laws were repealed in 1998 and 1999, respectively. Effective in July 2000, Florida repealed its universal helmet law. This project will evaluate the effects of the law change in Florida. Patty Ellison-Potter (202) 366-5586. (DOT HS 809 849, May 2005)

Older Drivers

Strategies for Medical Advisory Boards and Licensing Review
This research was conducted in cooperation with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. The report describes how each state currently handles licensing decisions for applicants with medical conditions. The catalog of existing state practices provides detailed descriptions of each state’s program as well as summary tables that permit a quick index to variations between states. The report includes recommendations for improvement in providing medical oversight to the licensing process, based on input from the states. Jesse Blatt, (202) 366-5588, Research Report, Traffic Tech, and Guidelines. (DOT HS 809 874, July, 2005)

Medical Conditions and Driving: A Review of the Literature (1960-2000)
This report provides a comprehensive review of the medical, epidemiological, and gerontological research on the effects of medical conditions and functional limitations on driving performance. It is divided into 15 sections (Introduction, Vision, Hearing, Cardiovascular Diseases, Cerebrovascular Diseases, Peripheral Vascular Diseases, Diseases of the Nervous System, Respiratory Diseases, Metabolic Diseases, Renal Disease Muscuoloskeletal Disabilities, Psychiatric Diseases, Drugs, The Aging Driver and The Effects of Anesthesia and Surgery). Each section provides a brief overview of the condition or illness, prevalence information, and a physicians, rehabilitation practitioners, other allied health care professionals, department of motor vehicle personnel, road and traffic safety personnel, transportation planners, hospital discharge planners, researchers, and educators. (DOT HS 809 690, September 2005)

Distracted Driving Research

Effects of Practice on Interference From an Auditory Task While Driving: A Simulation Study
This study examined whether the distracting effects of having a phone conversation while driving diminish with practice. The researchers used a computer-based driving simulator and simulated the cognitive demands of a hands-free cellular phone conversation. Richard Compton, (202) 366-2699, Research Report and Traffic Tech. (DOT HS 809 826, December 2004)


Anticipated Research Studies
(December 2005 - December 2006)

Impaired Driving Research

Conforming Products List of Calibrating Units for EBTs (CPL for Calibrating Units)
NHTSA has published model specifications for calibrating units for evidential breath testers in the Federal Register, and tests commercially available devices against those guidelines at the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, MA. At least once each year, the CPL for Calibrating Units is updated and published in the Federal Register to include all new devices tested since its last publication. Jim Frank, (202) 366-55593, Federal Register Notice. (March 2006)

Evaluation of Four States’ Alcohol Demonstration Programs to Reduce
Impaired Driving: Georgia, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee
This project provides a consolidated evaluation of four separate demonstration projects aimed at reducing impaired driving though well publicized enforcement. Each of the four alcohol demonstration projects used different approaches to reaching the goal of reducing impaired driving crashes via highly publicized enforcement. Marv Levy, (202) 366-5597, Research Report and Traffic Tech. (May, 2006)

Determine the Impact of Safety Belt Use on Alcohol-Related Fatalities
This data analysis study will examine 3-5 states where there has been a large increase in safety belt use in a short time. For each of these states, we will determine the impact of safety belt use on alcohol-related fatalities. Amy Berning, (202) 366-5599, Research Report and Traffic Tech. (March, 2006)

Conforming Products List of Evidential Breath Testers (CPL for EBTs)
NHTSA has published model specifications for substitute evidential breath testers in Federal Register, and tests commercially available testers against those guidelines in its laboratory at the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, MA. At lease once each year, the CPL for ASDs is updated and published in the Federal Register to include all new devices tested since its last publication. Jim Frank (202) 366-5593, Federal Register Notice. (January, 2006)

Illinois Ignition Interlock Evaluation
This grant to the Illinois Secretary of States Office is to conduct an evaluation of the existing Illinois ignition interlock program, using existing data in the States files. The work is being completed under an agreement (contract) between the Secretary of States Office and the Northwestern University Traffic Institute (Evanston, IL). Jim Frank, (202) 366-5593, Research Report and Traffic Tech. (March, 2006 )

The Police Breath Alcohol Test
This is a summary of how police breath alcohol test devices work. The report is targeted for judges, prosecutors, and the police enforcement communities. Jim Frank (202) 366-5593, Report and Traffic Tech. (March, 2006)

Evaluation of the DUI Court Program in Maricopa County, Arizona
This report documents a program evaluation of the Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona DUI Court. In a random assignment design, 387 subjects were either assigned to the specialized DUI Court or to standard county probation services. The analyses indicated that DUI Court program offenders had lower recidivism rates than did the corresponding standard probation services offenders. Jim Frank (202) 366-5593. Technical report and Traffic Tech. (March, 2006)

The Robustness of the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test
This report describes three experiments that examined the effects of procedural variations in administration of the HGN test. Variations in stimulus speed and elevation, subjects’ positions (standing, sitting, lying down) and whether subjects had functional vision in only one eye were examined. The data demonstrate the validity of the HGN test with both standard and varied testing procedures. Jim Frank, (202) 366-5593, Technical Report and Traffic Tech. (March, 2006)

Update of Vehicle Sanction Laws and Their Application
This study will update and synthesize information about State laws and current practices related to vehicle sanctions both in the U.S. and abroad. It will provide legislative and procedural recommendations to the States considering new legislation or the modification of current sanctions. It will provide a review of the scientific literature covering the effectiveness of vehicle sanctions. Marv Levy, (202) 366-5597, Research Report and Traffic Tech. (April, 2006)

Crash Risk of Alcohol-Involved Drivers
This case control study acquired BAC and other data on crash involved drivers and matched control drivers at two sites, Long Beach, California and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. A report that examines relative risks for drivers of various characteristics will be produced. Paul J. Tremont, (202) 366-5587, Research Report and Traffic Tech. (April, 2006)

Motorcycle Safety Research

Methodology for Determining Motorcycle Operator Crash Risk and Impairment
This research study will identify alternative methods for collecting and analyzing both motorcycle exposure and crash data. Another objective is to identify potentially suitable sites for collecting the required data. Marv Levy, (202) 366-5597, Research Report and Traffic Tech. (December 2006)

Older Driver Research

Examination of Databases for Multiple Medication/Polypharmacy
Older adults use a disproportionately high volume of medications to treatment age associated diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, etc. Many of the prescribed medications have side effects that may impair driving skills. In this study, the relative frequency of various combinations of medications used by crash and non-crash individuals will be assessed by analyzing an existing database. A case-control study will be conducted to obtain odds ratios of various diseases, drugs, and drug conflicts on motor vehicle crashes. A logistic regression model will be developed to predict vehicle crashes. John Siegler, (202) 366-3976, Research Report, Traffic Tech. (March 2006)

Polypharmacy & Older Drivers: Identifying Strategies to Collect Drug Usage & Driving functioning Among Older Drivers
The purpose of this project is to identify practical strategies to collect information about "real world" drug usage among older drivers and to identify potentially valid methods to measure the consequences of drug usage and driving. The results of this study will be very useful for designing future studies in the area. John Siegler, (202) 366-3976, Research Report, Traffic Tech. (June 2006)

Predictors of Driving Behavior and Adverse Outcomes for Elderly Drivers
Data collected from 3 waves of a longitudinal study will be used to see how adults 55 and older change over time. The study will examine the reasons given by older people for limiting or avoiding driving; examine vision problems associated with limitations in driving; examine driving cessation and increased depression; and examine the consequences of reducing driving for older adults. Research Report and Traffic Tech and Journal Article. (December 2005)

Evaluation of the Ohio State Older Driver Evaluation Program
Using data from their Older Driver Evaluation Program, Ohio State University seeks to identify more efficient ways to assess older driver functional capability. It will analyze data from 550 clients. Results from the model will be used to refine the testing protocol of the Older Driver Evaluation Program. Research Report, Traffic Tech, Journal Article. (December 2005)

Distracted Driving Research

Driver Distraction on the New Jersey Turnpike
This project is using existing still photo and videotape footage of 45,000 drivers to examine signs of drinking and driving, distracted driving, and occupant protection use. Patty Ellison-Potter, (202) 366-5586, Research Report and Traffic Tech. (March, 2006)

Graduated Driver Licensing

Evaluation of Oregon’s Graduated Licensing Program
Evaluations of State Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) systems have demonstrated the effectiveness of these programs in reducing the crashes of novice drivers. However, the evaluations have not answered a number of questions concerning the various components of the GDL. One such question is the amount of parent provided practice that is to be provided to the novice driver. Oregon’s system allows a comparison between 50 hours and 100 hours of practice. A teen driver needs 50 hours if they have completed a certified driver education program; a teen driver must have 100 hours of parental practice if they waive the completion of a driver education program. This project will evaluate Oregon’s Graduated Driver Licensing Program, with an emphasis on the parental component. Patty Ellison-Potter, (202) 366-5586, Research Report and Traffic Tech. (March,2006)

Evaluation of Georgia’s Graduated Licensing Program.
This Project will evaluate the impact of Georgia’s GDL legislation on crashes and driving behaviors of 16 year olds before and after the passage of the legislation. Paul Tremont, (202) 366-5587, Research Report and Traffic Tech. (April, 2006)

National Evaluation of Graduated Driver Licensing Systems
Project will examine the effects on fatal crashes among youthful drivers in all states with GDL laws and compare them to states without GDL laws. Paul Tremont, (202) 366-5587, Research Report and Traffic Tech. (June, 2006)

Evaluation of Parent-Taught Driver Education in Texas
Since 1967, teenagers in Texas have been permitted to obtain a driver’s license at age 16 provided they successfully complete an approved public school or commercial driver’s education course. Until 1997, this training requirement could be met only if it was provided by schools and instructors certified by the Texas Education Agency. This changed in April 1997 when the Department of Public Safety (DPS) implemented rules, based on legislation passed in 1995, providing for parent or guardian-taught driver training that still meets the driver training requirements necessary for licensing at 16. Parents must follow State-approved procedures and curriculum and use one of three State-approved courses that require at least 32 hours of classroom instruction and 14 hours of in-car instruction. This project is evaluating the impact of the Parent-Taught Driver Education Program on teen driver citations and crashes. Patty Ellison-Potter, (202) 366-5586, Research Report and Traffic Tech. (March, 2006)

Other Research

Technology Applications for Traffic Safety Programs: A Primer on Innovative Systems and Their Development Challenges
This project used a literature search, expert interviews, professional conferences, and other methods to prepare introductory descriptions of emerging hardware, software, program management, and other promising components that could enhance current efforts by traffic law enforcement, EMTs, DMVs, traffic courts, and other NHTSA partners in public safety. The report discusses technical, institutional, economic, legal, standards-setting, privacy, and other factors that influence the design and deployment of new systems. Doug Gurin, (202)-366-5594, Research Report and Traffic Tech. (March 2006)

Evaluation of Countermeasures to Combat Drowsy Driving
This driving simulator study examined strategies to combat drowsy driving. Amy Berning, (202) 366-5599 (In print queue)