Driver distraction - accounting for thousands of deaths annually – remains one of the nation's greatest highway safety challenges. However, researchers are making progress toward lessening the problem.

That is the message Daniel McGehee, director of the University of Iowa Public Policy Center's Human Factors and Vehicle Safety Research Program and adjunct associate professor in the Colleges of Engineering and Public Health, delivered at the Second National Distracted Driver Summit in Washington, D.C.

In addition to describing the history of driver distraction research, McGehee discussed how:

  • Mobile phones are being used less often for person-to-person conversation and increasingly to gain access to online information sources.
  • Driver distraction research is increasingly interdisciplinary, including physicians, engineers, gerontologists and many other professionals.
  • A full array of research tools from driving simulators and other naturalistic devices are required to answer complex research questions raised by distracted driving. Read the UI News Release

Dan McGehee presents at the Distracted Driving Summit (C-SPAN)

About the Human Factors and Vehicle Safety Research (HF) Program

The Human Factors and Vehicle Safety Research (HF) program works to improve technology design through a better understanding of human behavior. The challenge is to match user needs with the optimal solutions—technological or otherwise. Research is focused primarily on the field of automotive safety. The themes of interdisciplinary research and systems-based drivingdesign are the core of the Public Policy Center HF program, which fosters collaboration between the Colleges of Engineering, Medicine, Public Health, Liberal Arts and Sciences and research centers under the vice president for research.

About the Public Policy Center

The University of Iowa's Public Policy Center (PPC) was started in 1987 by Professor David Forkenbrock. The PPC was established as a freestanding unit under the Office of the Vice President for Research to facilitate interdisciplinary academic research across campus. It became a place where scholars could collaboratively study the most pressing public policy issues of the day.  The Public Policy Center’s mission is to provide policymakers with information that can make our lives and communities thrive in sustainable ways through academic research.

The PPC's original focus was transportation policy research. Over the years, the Center has expanded into new areas of study: Health Policy Research (1990), Human Factors and Vehicle Safety Research (1996), Crime and Justice Policy Research (2008) and Housing Policy Research (2009). An Environmental Policy Research program was established in 2010.

In 2008, the Forkenbrock Series on Public Policy was established to provide an interdisciplinary forum to share information on important policy-related topics of the day. The series sponsors lectures and symposia designed to bring together academic researchers, policymakers, other key stakeholders such as business leaders, and the public. The Series honors the memory of David Forkenbrock and his lifelong interest in informing policymakers through academic research.

For more information about the Public Policy Center and the Human Factors and Vehicle Safety Research, visit, or contact:

Peter Damiano
Director, Public Policy Center
(319) 335-6813

Daniel McGehee
Director, Human Factors and Vehicle Safety Research Program
(319) 335-6819

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