Francesco BiondiProfessor Francesco Biondi and Windsor Police Service are teaming up to study distracted driving in school zones, aiming to enhance safety with targeted campaigns and policy recommendations based on comprehensive data collection and analysis.

Researcher teaming up with Windsor police to study distracted driving

The Windsor Police Service is teaming up with a researcher at the University of Windsor to study distracted driving in school zones and other elevated-risk areas of the city.

Francesco Biondi, an expert in how drivers behave behind the wheel, will be leading the study together with Barry Horrobin, director of planning and physical resources for Windsor Police.

In addition to measuring the prevalence of distracted driving, the project will measure the impact of things like school zone signs and traffic volumes on driver distraction within selected study locations. The goal is to identify areas that need targeted safety campaigns or more police presence and show the consequences of distracted driving on our local roadways.

“This project has the potential to improve safety on Windsor streets,” said Dr. Biondi. “We will be able to pinpoint areas where distracted driving is most dangerous and make recommendations on how the police can address those problem areas.”

Biondi, a researcher in the Faculty of Human Kinetics, has secured a grant of nearly $25,000 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to conduct the study. Windsor police will contribute staff consultative time and perspective to the project and the University of Windsor will contribute about $14,000 in equipment and technological support.

“This partnership with Dr. Biondi and the University of Windsor offers the Windsor Police Service an excellent collaboration opportunity to address a safety concern that exists on our local roadways,” said Horrobin. “Collecting this information in a comprehensive study will create an evidence-based platform for informing future policy decisions to enhance community safety of our roadways.”

Biondi’s past research on distracted driving shows that the most dangerous examples include talking on a cellphone, texting, and using a vehicle’s touchscreen.

“Despite high fines, distracted driving is not letting up,” he said, citing statistics that show driver distraction is a contributing factor in one in five road fatalities in Canada.

Both Horrobin and Biondi have experience sitting on provincial road safety boards. They will share their findings in the hope of combating distracted driving elsewhere in the province and beyond.

The study is already in the planning stages. Researchers will collect data over a 12-month period beginning in July. 
Academic Area: