Three important and inter-related topics are addressed in this paper. First, the importance of meta-analysis and research synthesis methods to combine studies on traffic safety, in general, and on driver distraction, in particular, is briefly reviewed. Second, naturalistic, epidemiologic, and driving simulation studies on driver distraction are used to illustrate convergent and divergent results that have accumulated thus far in this domain of research. In particular, mobile phone conversation, passenger presence, and text messaging naturalistic studies use meta-analyses and research syntheses to illustrate important patterns of results that are in need of more in-depth study. Third, a number of driver distraction study limitations such as poorly defined dependent variables, lack of methodological detail, and omission of statistical information prevent the integration of many studies into meta-analyses. In addition, the overall quality of road safety studies suffers from these same limitations and suggestions for improvement are made to guide researchers and reviewers. Practical Applications. The use of research synthesis and meta-analysis provide comprehensive estimates of the impact of distractions on driving performance, which can be used to guide public policy and future research.
Keywords: Driver distraction; Driving simulation; Meta-analysis; Naturalistic driving; Research synthesis.
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