• Sam Mark Thomsen
  • Samantha Hjorth
  • Malene Søndergaard Petersen
This paper seeks to explore driver distraction in Denmark with a focus on the region of Mid and West Jutland. Driver distraction will be defined as any task, activity or thought process that takes the driver’s attention away from driving the car. Activities like eating, smoking and tuning a radio are therefore also seen as having a risk associated with them. Through the paper, the extent of driver distraction will be examined based on the quantity of distracted drivers and who they are in terms of age and gender. Furthermore, the paper will examine the reasons given to justify the distracted actions, as well as solutions that can reduce the distractions. This will be done through routine activity theory, deterrence theory, neutralization techniques and the social norms approach. The methods used are a study of occurrence of driver distraction, review of police records of fines for handheld mobile phones, semi-structured interviews and a questionnaire.

The results show that driver distraction is a complex and highly subjective phenomena. According to our data, 4,3 % of all drivers are distracted regardless of vehicle type. The drivers of heavier vehicles like trucks, however, seem to be more distracted than those of private cars. This can be explained through routine activity, in the sense that driving in connection with work seems to invite more opportunities for driver distraction as these drivers are both more experienced with driving, and adhering to their schedules. When it comes to the type of distraction the most common form seems to be biomechanical distraction e.g. taking the hands off the wheel to dial the number on a phone. This also pertains to eating, drinking, smoking and tuning the radio or other functions within the car as these are the most commonly reported distractions.

The most used excuses and justifications are that they didn’t see a problem with doing the action or that they deemed the action so important that it couldn’t wait. The drivers also seem to be unaware of the risks and dangers of the actions that can’t be sanctioned by police. This is despite the fact that recent studies have found that these actions contribute to accidents just as often as the actions that can be sanctioned.

When it comes to solutions, it is clear that one form of approach isn’t enough. This is because things such as campaigns affect drivers differently and to different extents. To inform the drivers of the dangers of distracted driving, more than campaigns are needed to reach a wider audience.
Publication date5 Jun 2018
Number of pages107
External collaboratorMidt- og Vestjyllands Politi
Henrik Glintborg HMG001@politi.dk
ID: 280406583