CEC Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems (DISS)

Department

College of Engineering and Computing

Advisor

Yair Levy

Committee Member

Stephen E. Bronsburg

Committee Member

Steven R. Terrell

Abstract

Texting while driving is a growing problem that has serious, and sometimes fatal, consequences. Despite laws enacted to curb this behavior, the problem continues to grow. Discovering factors that can reduce such risky behavior can significantly contribute to research, as well as save lives and reduce property damage. This study developed a model to explore the motivations that cause a driver to send messages. The model evaluates the effects that boredom, social relationships, social anxiety, and social gratification (BRAG) have upon a driver’s frequency of typing text messages. In addition, the perceived severity of the consequences and the presence of a passenger were also be evaluated for any moderating effects on a driver’s texting. Furthermore, a set of hypotheses based on the BRAG model were presented. To investigate these hypotheses, a survey instrument was developed and data was collected from 297 respondents at a mid-sized regional university in the Pacific North west of the United States. Prior to the distribution of the survey, an expert panel and a pilot study were used to ensure the reliability of the instrument.

Partial least squares structured equation modeling (PLS-SEM) was used to evaluate the predictive validity of the BRAG model. This evaluation included an assessment of the reflective measures, as well as a detailed analysis of the structural model. Additionally, knowledge visualization techniques were used to emphasize the significance of the findings. The results of this analysis showed that the social gratification one receives from maintaining their social relationships is a significant predictor of texting while driving. Additionally, the results showed that drivers continued to text, regardless of the consequences. However, boredom and social anxiety were not significant predictors of texting while driving.

This study makes important contributions to the information systems body of knowledge and has implications for state and local lawmakers, in addition to public health officials. Prior research has shown that bored or anxious individuals use texting to relieve those feelings of discomfort. However, this study did not extend those findings to drivers. As this study found that laws banning texting while driving do not deter this behavior, public health officials and lawmakers should investigate other means of deterring texting while driving, given the significant impact it has on the increase of fatal car accidents in recent years.