Turn Off Texting Survey Data, 2017-2018

Turn Off Texting (TOT) is a presentation that helps young drivers understand the dangers of distracted driving through a personal, first-hand, real-world experience. It’s an educational countermeasure that helps improve the safety culture of each new generation of Vermont drivers. Funding for the program depends on demonstrating that it helps improve perceptions and attitudes about highway safety. The Council uses surveys to gather this data, described below. 

During the 2017-2018 Turn Off Texting (TOT) season, the presentation was scheduled at 62 sites in 11 counties across Vermont with a total of 1,347 students participating.

At each TOT presentation, students drove a golf cart through a course of traffic cones, then drove through the course a second time while texting phrases provided by the presenter. Most students completed a survey before and after they participated. The survey was created with support from the UVM Transportation Research Center and helped the Council understand whether students experienced a change in attitude about safety resulting from their TOT experience.

Based on a sample of 196 surveys, students on the first run of the course had an average of 1.65 errors (STD 1.43). An error was counted when they hit a traffic cone, swerved out of their lane, ran a stop sign, or committed similar virtual errors in the driving simulator that substituted for the golf cart during winter months. On the second run when students had to text while driving, the average number of errors increased to 6.22 (STD 3.54). The range of errors for the second run was four times larger than it had been for the first, giving the the students a first-hand impression of the dangers of driving while distracted.

When the Council examined a sample of 215 unpaired pre- and post-presentation surveys, 97.67% ranked texting or emailing while driving as unacceptable or somewhat unacceptable to begin with. Even with this initial high measurement of agreement among students that texting or emailing while driving is not acceptable, a sampling of data from 207 paired pre- and post-presentation surveys revealed that there was an 8.21% positive change in student perception that resulted from their TOT experience. Additionally, there was a positive change of 20.77% in response to the question of whether students would text or e-mail while driving in the future. In fact, out of the 54 (26.09%) students whose answers changed between the pre- and post-presentation surveys, 79.63% marked that they were less likely to text and drive in the future.

A majority of students (84.5%) answered that they found the Turn Off Texting program useful.