Countermeasures for Distracted Driving: An Exploration Beyond the Scientific Literature

This report presents a comprehensive review of current efforts by national, state, local, and international organizations at implementing countermeasures to address driver distraction.

February 2024

Suggested Citation


  • Lisa J. Molnar

  • Jennifer S. Zakrajsek

  • Nicole Zanier

  • Renee M. St. Louis

  • David W. Eby


Previous research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety on the effectiveness of countermeasures for distracted driving (see Related Content below) concluded that results of existing evaluations were mixed, there was questionable generalizability to other populations or regions and, in other cases, insufficient evidence to draw firm conclusions. Thus, this research compiled information on distracted driving countermeasures from sources outside of the scientific literature in order to formulate practical guidance for the implementation and evaluation of these countermeasures. The study examined the integration of behavior change theory and Safe System principles in distracted driving countermeasures and provides recommendations for future development and research.


The examination of safety strategies aimed at mitigating distracted drivers was performed using four separate but interdependent data collection approaches: environmental scans, foundational interviews, surveys of stakeholders, and integrative interviews. Findings on the effectiveness of distraction countermeasures were summarized based on three categories: behavioral/educational, legislative/law enforcement, and technology.

Key Findings

General recommendations and opportunities for the development, implementation, and promotion of distracted driving countermeasures include (listed in the order they are presented in the report):

  • Expand the range of distracted driving behaviors targeted by countermeasures beyond cellphone use.
  • Extend the targeting of distracted driving countermeasures beyond young drivers.
  • Continue the development of smartphone-based distracted driving countermeasures.
  • Strengthen educational/behavioral distracted driving countermeasures by incorporating constructs of behavioral change theory that are known to be effective in changing other risky behaviors.
  • Expand the framing of educational/behavioral countermeasures to include non-risk-related messaging.
  • Focus on educating law enforcement on the value of enforcing distracted driving laws.
  • Promote the use of objective measures of general driving and distracted driving in the development and evaluation of distracted driving countermeasures.
  • Clarify among distracted driving stakeholders the importance of outcome evaluations that measure changes in behavior in understanding the effectiveness of distracted driving countermeasures.
  • Develop a consistent and coordinated branding of distracted driving prevention efforts across jurisdictions.
  • Increase the visibility of the National Distracted Driving Coalition and other existing alliances that address distracted driving.
  • Address safety culture and the Safe System Approach in efforts to reduce distracted driving.
  • Develop a Safe System Approach toolkit with easy-to-understand strategies and materials for implementing efforts to address distracted driving.
  • Consider the necessary and realistic financial and human resources as a fundamental component in distracted driving efforts.
  • Ensure that underserved and low-income communities have the resources to implement and engage in distracted driving countermeasures.

Suggested Citation


Lisa J. Molnar

Jennifer S. Zakrajsek

Nicole Zanier

Renee M. St. Louis

David W. Eby