Lee Munnich, Senior Fellow, SLPP, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
In late 2009, the Center for Excellence in Rural Safety (CERS) commissioned a nationwide public opinion survey to help the Center better understand drivers' knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs concerning safety issues and related policy matters concerning today's rural roadways. After conducting an extensive review of research related to various road safety public polices, CERS concluded that research finds six public policies as particularly effective in reducing rural road fatalities: 1) primary seat belt laws, 2) sobriety checkpoints, 3) motorcycle helmet mandate, 4) graduated driver?s licenses, 5) automated speed enforcement, and 6) breathalyzer-based ignition locks. Survey questions were developed to gauge public perception of the effectiveness of these policies as well as their public support. The survey was administered by telephone to a randomized national sample of 1,205 eligible adults, with eligibility determined by self-reported responses for legal voting age, registered voter status, and incidence of regularly driving an automobile at least once a week. The survey was deployed from March 23 through May 6, 2010 using random digit dial probability sampling inclusive of a cross-sectional, national sample of telephone numbers tied to specific U.S. Census regions. Data for the study were examined according to a number of demographic and other respondent classification variables included in the survey instrument, including gender, age, socio-economic indicators (e.g., educational attainment, household income), and political views. Additionally, given anticipated geographic and residential variations, data was also analyzed by U.S. Census region and the respondent's type of community (urban, suburban, rural, etc.). Finally, data was also examined according to several self-reported behavioral measures, including the proportion of respondents' driving that takes place on rural roadways, as well as the incidence of several driving-related experiences, such as involvement in automobile accidents and incidence of involvement with traffic violations.