Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) Graduate Research Assistant Xiaoqiang “Jack” Kong recently published the research paper “Characterizing phone usage while driving: Safety impact from road and operational perspectives using factor analysis” in Accident Analysis & Prevention. The paper’s authors also include Subasish Das, assistant research scientist in TTI’s Roadway Safety Division; Hongmin “Tracy” Zhou, associate transportation researcher in TTI’s Research and Implementation Division; and Yunglong Zhang, professor and associate research scientist in TTI’s Signs and Markings Program.
The researchers used an unsupervised learning method, known as factor analysis, on a unique distracted driving data set to understand phone usage while driving (PUWD) behavior from the roadway and operational perspectives. The findings indicate that the presence of a shoulder, median, higher speed limit and access control on the roadways with higher functional class could encourage more PUWD events. The results also confirm the correlation between the frequency of PUWD events and the frequency of distracted crashes, especially on urban roadways. Transportation agencies can use the findings of this study in identifying suitable countermeasures to reduce distraction related crashes. The findings can also provide researchers with a new perspective to study PUWD behavior.
Kong is currently working in TTI’s Mobility Division and is a Ph.D. student in Texas A&M University’s Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.