2004 Louis Harris Poll
SURVEY OF THE
ATTITUDES OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE
ON HIGHWAY AND AUTO SAFETY
WAVE FIVE OF A PERIODIC TRACKING SURVEY
ADVOCATES FOR HIGHWAY AND AUTO SAFETY
Peter Harris Research Group, Inc.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A WORD ABOUT THIS STUDY
A Basic Public Commitment
Substance of This Year's Survey
1. Overall importance of Federal Regulations of Safety Matters
2. Preventing Rollover Crashes
------Consumer Information about Rollover
------Installing Electronic Stability Controls
------Other Safety Measures to Reduce Injuries in Rollover Crashes
3. Preventing Passenger Ejection from Vehicles
------Stronger Vehicle Roofs
------Safer Door Locks and Latches
------Stronger Side Door Window Glass
------Side Air Bag Curtains
------Better Seat Belts
4. Making Safety Improvements Mandatory and the Public's Willingness to Pay for Them
5. Addressing Auto Safety Concerns for Children
------Improved Child Safety Seats
------Eliminating Blind Spots
------Making it Illegal to Leave Children Alone in a Parked Vehicle
6. The Problem of Trucks and Highway Safety
------Truck Driver Fatigue
------Bigger, Heavier Truck Loads
A Word about This Study
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety ("Advocates"), the leading national highway safety advocacy group, is an alliance of consumer, health, safety and insurance groups working together to advance highway and auto safety. In May 1996, Advocates commissioned the first in a series of in-depth polls of national public opinion on key issues affecting highway and auto safety. In May of 2004, Advocates commissioned the fifth such survey by Louis Harris. The 2004 survey measures trends in public opinion over the past three-to-eight years on certain issues and asks questions for the first time on several other topics.
These surveys deal with the basic parameters of public consent in America for federal regulation in setting and enforcing standards that can make highway and auto travel safer. As with earlier waves, this year's survey covers a broad spectrum of issues, including how important Americans feel the role of government should be in setting standards and passing policies and legislation on highway safety. The two prime considerations governing the set of attitudes held by the American people are:
(1) The extent to which the public is willing to tolerate governmental regulation over a major area involving the daily lives of almost everyone, and
(2) How the public comes down on crisis decisions that the nation must make on specific problems that have emerged front and center.
A Basic Public Commitment
Over the past 25 years, this country has had a serious dialogue and debate over the role of governmental standards and their enforcement in response to major efforts to limit government intervention. A major exception to the idea that less regulation may be both desirable and beneficial is in the area of public health and safety. When considering public safety and health, people see a real need for government to intervene and protect the larger community as a whole. Highway and auto safety are prime concerns.
On September 11, 2001, the pall of terrorism fell on American life, adding the pervasiveness of public worry about safety from a terrorist attack to other concerns about health and public safety. There is a relation between these two areas because, in both cases, the major intervener inevitably must be government. If government does not fully protect the basic safety and health of the country, then most people suffer a sense of personal vulnerability.
This year's survey illustrates specifically the proposition of community concern. Fundamentally, it holds that it is in the best interest of the community at large for government to assert responsibility for safety issues to the extent that insufficient intervention places individuals at incrementally greater risk. The survey indicates that vast majorities of the American people accept and support the idea that on safety issues it is desirable and necessary for government to set standards and enforce laws designed to protect the public.
Specifically, this year's study focused on five key areas:
(1) Preventing and protecting passengers in rollover crashes
(2) Preventing ejection from vehicles during a crash
(3) Consumer information about rollover crashes
(4) Vehicle safety regulations to protect all members of the family
(5) Truck safety regulation on the highways
A total of 1003 telephone interviews were completed by telephone with randomly selected adults aged 18 years and older between May 14, 2004 and June 3, 2004 by the Peter Harris Research Group on behalf of Louis Harris. Every household in the nation with a telephone had roughly an equal chance to participate in the survey.
The interview averaged 15.5 minutes in length. At the 95% level of confidence, the margin of error for a representative, national cross-section survey of 1003 respondents is approximately ±3.1 percentage points. A complete report on the technical aspects of the study is contained in Appendix B of this report.
While the study was conducted at the initiation of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the responsibility of the professionalism of the study and the findings reached rests squarely on Louis Harris, who was ably assisted by the Peter Harris Research Group. All of the results are available to the public. Appendix A includes a copy of the basic questionnaire for this survey including total results for each question that was asked in the survey.
On a trend basis, federal regulation of highway and auto safety, food and other product safety areas, and safety on the job continues to receive remarkably high levels of public support:
Statistically, the weight of public opinion is overwhelmingly on the side of having federal responsibility for safety in matters of safety and public health. The intensity of support is also high. Over the years, roughly six in 10 Americans have viewed federal regulatory responsibility over highway and auto safety and other matters affecting the health and safety of the people as not just important, but "very important," essentially indicating that they view it as an indispensable necessity.
2. Preventing Vehicle Rollovers during Crashes
A sizable portion of this year's study was devoted to the problem of vehicle rollovers, a major concern brought front and center by the popularity of sport utility vehicles (SUVs), the fastest-selling passenger vehicle. SUVs have a much greater chance of rolling over than other passenger cars. Each year, crashes involving the rollover of vehicles result in more than 10,000 deaths, representing about one fourth of all deaths from motor vehicles. Nevertheless, no government regulations exist to prevent rollover in passenger vehicles, including SUVs.
On most dimensions of the rollover issue, the public's view is sharp and decisive.
- When asked if they have heard of "the problem of rollovers in SUVs," a substantial 86% of the American people say they are familiar with the SUV rollover problem. Significantly, 85% of SUV owners are aware of the rollover problem. However, when asked about their awareness of a government website "that has customer information about how likely it is for various types of vehicles to roll over in a crash," only 31% say they are aware of such a site. Among SUV owners, this number shrinks to 24%, suggesting that SUV owners may be less inclined than most Americans to seek out information on rollovers. Perhaps, this group feels that the benefits outweigh the risks of owning an SUV or that the risks are small enough that they do not need to seek out more information on them.
- Overall, a 6 to 1 majority of the public (84% to 13%) express the view that "the government should create safety rules that require manufacturers to make all passenger vehicles including SUVs more stable and less likely to roll over." The split between men and women is decisive: 91% of the women favoring such regulation, compared with a lesser 77% among men. However, the 77% number is still significantly high. SUV owners themselves favor such government action by 82% to 14%.
- An almost identical 83% to 14% favors requiring stickers to be placed on the windshield of all new cars indicating the likelihood of that vehicle to roll over.
The breakdown by key groups in the nation on the sticker issue reveals a significant pattern that emerges throughout this survey:
The critically important overall result, of course, is that every key group in the population favors posting a sticker in the window of each new car reporting how likely it is to roll over. By vehicle ownership, a substantial 84% of all SUV owners favor putting stickers on the windows of the next SUV they purchase stating how vulnerable their SUV is to roll over. Pick-up truck owners also come up with 83% who support putting the stickers on the windows of new cars.
The survey as a whole indicates some fundamental differences between major groups, not so much on the direction of automobile and highway safety, but rather on the degree to which they favor safety regulations and innovations:
- By region, the West lags behind the rest of the country on highway and auto safety regulations. The West is the area of the country where people drive their cars the most and the farthest distances. Evidently, westerners want less regulation than the rest of the country, although we note that sizable majorities of westerners still favor almost all of the tough government regulations tested in the study. The Midwest falls off some on this issue, but on most others, it parallels the national norm. Significantly, the South, touted as the most conservative part of the country, shows strong support for government regulation over highway and auto safety.
- The difference is greater by gender than it is by any other group. Consistently, women are roughly 10 points more in favor of government measures to regulate health and safety problems than are men.
- By income, the survey repeatedly turns up fascinating and unexpected results. The lower people's income, the more they favor stricter government enforcement of safety standards. The highest income groups favor such action less, although sizeable majorities still favor government regulation.
- By race, the results of this study show that the two leading minorities in the country, blacks and Latinos, are significantly more in favor of stricter governmental regulations on auto and highway safety than are whites.
Installing Electronic Stability Controls to Prevent Cars from Rolling Over
Another innovation tested in the survey is Electronic Stability Control ("ESC") devices that in certain circumstances can help prevent vehicle rollovers. ESC devices are now in use in Europe and are available in more expensive, high-end vehicles in this country. People were asked if they would like the government to require having ESC devices installed in all new cars they buy in the future. A 55% to 39% majority nationwide favors the government requiring ESC devices to be installed in new cars in the future.
Several sharp differences emerge from key groups in the population. By 50% to 45%, men oppose requiring ESC devices in new cars, but women carry the day with their 64% to 29% support of ESC devices. By 62% to 33%, SUV owners favor installing ESC devices, while owners of pick-up trucks support it by a smaller 52% to 44% majority. Whites support the installation by a narrow 50% to 43% margin, but blacks favor it by 65% to 27% and Latinos favor it by 69% to 27%. By age, young people under 30 support putting the device in every new car, but those 50-to-64 years of age split down the middle 46% to 46%.
Other Safety Measures to Prevent or Reduce Injuries in Rollover Crashes
The survey examined public opinion about three other measures relating to preventing or reducing injuries in rollover crashes: (1) Improved Seatbelts; (2) Stronger Roof Standard; and (3) Mismatched Collisions Between SUVs and Smaller Cars. All three measures met with decisive support.
- Improved Seatbelts. Advanced seat belts that tighten or loosen at different times during a crash to protect passengers during a vehicle rollover are installed in some but not all cars. An 82% to 17% majority nationwide would like to see the government require improvements in seat belts to better protect passengers during rollovers. All categories support the use of such belts, including 83% of SUV owners.
- Stronger Roof Standard. A substantial 90% of the American people say they are aware that "car roofs can be crushed when a vehicle rolls over in crash." A nearly unanimous 97% of SUV owners are aware of such a prospect.
An 83% majority "wants the government to require a major upgrading of roof safety standards to withstand the weight of the car when it rolls over." A high 87% of women, young people 18-to-29 years old, and those earning less than $50,000 favor such action. This compares with 77% of men, 76% of those aged 50 to 64, and 75% of those earning over $100,000 a year.
- Mismatched Collisions between SUVs and Smaller Cars. Another SUV problem the survey examined is "severe damage (that) can take place when bigger passenger vehicles such as SUVs and pick-up trucks collide with smaller vehicles." A 64% majority of Americans knows about media reports on the dangers of smaller cars being hit by SUVs. Among the public as a whole, 47% say they are very concerned about the consequences of collisions involving SUVs and smaller passenger cars. Another 36% are "somewhat concerned" for a total of 83% who are concerned about the damage caused when SUVs collide with smaller vehicles. A 56% majority of women are "very concerned," compared with 36% of men, 41% of SUV owners, and 29% of those earning over $100,000 a year.
If a person is thrown out of a vehicle in the event of a crash, the chances are great that that person either will be killed or will suffer serious injuries. Some people are ejected through the windshield after it pops out of the vehicle frame, through side windows that crumble in a crash leaving gaping holes, or through open doors because door locks and latches fail to keep vehicle doors closed. Despite these dangers, no government safety standard exists to prevent people from being ejected during a crash. A 72% to 24% majority believes "the government should set standards for auto manufacturers to prevent people from being ejected from motor vehicles in crashes." The survey cross-section was asked about five measures that might be taken to protect passengers against ejections in crashes:
- Stronger Vehicle Roofs. By 81% to 16%, most Americans favor "stronger vehicle roofs so that windshields don't pop out of the frame so easily during a crash."
- Safer Door Locks and Latches. By an identical 81% to 16%, a solid majority also opts for having "safer door locks and latches so that doors do not fly open in crashes."
- Stronger Side Door Window Glass.By 78% to 19%, a majority also favors "stronger side door window glass, like that in windshields, that won't crumble in a crash."
- Side Air Bag Curtains. By 70% to 22%, a majority also supports "side air bag curtains that drop from the vehicle roof and come between the person and the side door and window."
- Better Seat Belts.By 85% to 14%, a sizable majority favors "the government requiring better seat belts to prevent people from being ejected in crashes."
On each of these measures, which might reduce the severity of injuries in ejection situations in serious crashes, SUV owners opted for them by close to the same majorities accorded by the nation as a whole. Most of the results in the survey demonstrate that SUV owners not only support steps to reduce the threat of death or serious injury in case of a crash, but seem eager to get such relief. The assumption that SUV owners are oblivious to the dangers inherent in their vehicles simply is not borne out by the facts. In fact, real measures to prevent SUV rollovers could increase the market for SUVs.
The cross-section was asked bluntly if it felt that the safety improvement that had been discussed and asked about should be standard for all vehicles and not simply optional. The results are striking:
The results broken out by income are also striking. A high 84% of the poorest people earning less than $25,000 lead the way, followed by 77% in favor among those earning $25,000 to $50,000, then by 64% of those in the $50,000 to $100,000 bracket, and by a bare 54% among those earning over $100,000. The reason so few of the highest income people do not favor making the safety measures mandatory in all cars manufactured could well be that they feel they now get the option to have many of these measures installed in the cars they buy. But it is immediately evident that a majority of the people feel that they are short-changed on the latest safety features, and they think the improvements should be added in the less expensive cars they can afford. These sentiments seem to indicate that the day might arrive soon when such safety features of cars will take their place along with Social Security and Medicare as part of the built-in health benefits accorded to all parts of the population.
Survey respondents were asked how much more money they would be willing to pay for vehicle safety improvements that would prevent rollovers, provide better roof crush protection, and upgrade side impact protection. A previous cross-section in 1999 had been asked an identical question. The results showed a dramatic increase in the number who would be willing to pay between $200 and $300 more. Back in 1996, 75% of the people said they would pay the extra money. Now, in 2004, fully 91% said they would pay the $200 to $300 increase in the price of the car. At a time when cars are emphasizing reductions in price, this must be viewed as a strong endorsement of what real safety measures mean to the American people.
Fully 52% of the families in America transport children between one and eight years old during the year. The survey asked three questions about children's safety with automobiles. The survey results indicate substantial support for improved automobile safety for children.
Improved Child Safety Seats. The survey asked about new child safety seats that can be built into the back seats in vehicles. The seats can be opened when a child needs to sit in one and can be folded back, out of sight, into the back seat when not in use. A substantial 79% to 14% majority believes such a permanent folding seat would be more convenient and easier to use than the separate seat they now have to attach for themselves.
- Eliminating Blind Spots. Another question dealt with the problem of vehicles backing up and running over children they cannot see behind their car. "Blind spots" keep the driver from seeing what is in back of the car as the driver backs up. SUVs, pick-up trucks, and mini-vans have larger blind spots than other cars. An overwhelming 90% of the American people would like to have some type of equipment in their new car, which would provide better visibility directly behind the vehicle.
- Making it Illegal to Leave Children Alone in Parked Cars. Yet another problem affecting children's safety involves leaving children in closed cars, especially during hot weather. This can cause a vehicle's inside temperature to rise to 100 degrees or more. The children experience dehydration and can suffer from heat stroke or even death. Last year, 42 children died this way. Ninety percent (90%) of the public would favor state laws that would make it illegal for any parent to leave a child alone in a parked vehicle. To prevent this problem, in addition to state laws, the survey respondents were asked about their support for the installation of technology in vehicles, such as a buzzer that would alert the driver when a child is left in the back seat. An 82% to 17% majority would favor the installation of such a warning device.
Historically, surveys for Advocates have examined safety issues related to big trucks. This year's survey examined the following issues:
- Truck Driver Fatigue. Specifically, the survey asked about the perennial problem of truck driver fatigue. The temptation probably will always exist of having drivers under the influence of heavy doses of caffeine or drugs who can increase the number of hours they drive to save money on stops and decrease the number of relief drivers needed. However, the seriousness of fatigued drivers not being able to control their huge vehicles poses an obvious major danger on the highways. Drivers keep paper logs, which can be altered to hide their fatigue transgressions. However, there are black boxes, which can be installed in trucks, which can enforce hours of service rules. Many trucks now have them at a cost of only a few hundred dollars. An 84% to 13% majority of the public favors the mandatory installation of the black boxes on all trucks. This is up marginally from the 81% to 17% majority who felt that way three years ago.
- Bigger, Heavier Truck Loads. Another perennial problem is the size and weight of trucks allowed on highways. Some segments of the trucking industry continue to press for increasing federal and state weight laws to allow for bigger, heavier loads. By 77% to 16%, the public opposes increasing truck weight limits. The 2004 survey continues to show a large majority of the public opposing increases in truck weight limits and allowing bigger rigs to share the road.
- Multiple Trailers. Finally, people were asked about trucks pulling two or more trailers, whether they are as safe as trucks pulling one trailer. The public comes down decisively with 80% saying they feel that trucks with two or more trailers are less safe.
SURVEY RESULTS QUESTION BY QUESTION
HIGHWAY SAFETY TRACKING SURVEY
Q1a. Regardless of how you vote, do you consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat, or an independent?
Q1b. (T) Let me ask you about some things the federal government does. In the past, the federal government has been concerned with setting strict rules about food and other product safety, highway and airline safety, and safety on the job. Some people want to change all this and turn over such safety and health rule setting to the states and localities, which can make decisions locally. Others say doing that would result in the end of uniform safety standards that people everywhere in the country can count on. How important do you feel it is for the federal government to be concerned with these areas of safety - very important, somewhat important, not very important, or not important at all?
Q4a. Have you heard or not heard about the problem of rollovers in Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs)?
Q4b. Are you aware or not that there is a government web site that has customer information about how likely it is for various types of vehicles to roll over in a crash?
Q4c. Each year crashes involving the rollover of vehicles result in more than 10,000 deaths. This causes one fourth of all deaths from motor vehicle crashes. These rollovers also result in over 200,000 injuries. SUVs are the fastest selling type of passenger vehicles. They also have a much greater chance of rolling over than other passenger cars. Right now, the government does not have any regulations to prevent rollover in passenger vehicles, including SUVs. Would you favor or oppose the government creating safety rules that require manufacturers to make all passenger vehicles including SUVs more stable and less likely to roll over?
Q4d. The next time you purchase a new vehicle, would you like to see information posted on a window sticker about the likelihood of a rollover, or would you not like to see that information on a window sticker?
Q4e. There is technology that in certain circumstances can help prevent a vehicle from rolling over. It is called electronic stability control or "ESC." This device is part of the vehicle steering system and works automatically to help the driver keep control of the vehicle. Such systems are already used in Europe and are currently available in more expensive, high-end vehicles in this country. If you were purchasing a new car today, would you want to have the federal government require that your car have an ESC system to help reduce the chance of a rollover, or would you not like to see the federal government require that "ESC" be in your car?
Q4f. Seat belts are not designed or tested to see how well they perform in rollover crashes. They can become loose and fail to hold passengers in their seats during rollover. There are advanced seat belts that tighten or loosen at different times during a crash to protect passengers. Many cars are already equipped with these advanced seat belts. Should the government require or not require improvements in seat belts including testing how well seat belts perform in a rollover to help protect people in rollover crashes?
Q4g. Are you aware or not that car roofs can be crushed when a vehicle rolls over in a crash?
Q4h. In a rollover crash, the roof of the vehicle can collapse because the roof is not strong enough to withstand the weight of the vehicle. This increases the likelihood of serious injury or death to the occupants. Do you favor or oppose the government requiring a major upgrading of the roof safety standard to allow the roof to withstand the weight of the car when the car rolls over?
Q4i. (T) Have you seen or heard any recent media reports about the severe damage caused by bigger passenger vehicles such as SUVs and pick-up trucks colliding with smaller vehicles?
Q4j. (T) How concerned are you about the severe accidents that can result when bigger vehicles such as SUVs and pick-up trucks hit smaller cars - very concerned, somewhat concerned, not very concerned, or not concerned at all?
Q5a. Being ejected or thrown out of a vehicle in a crash is a major safety problem. Most people ejected during crashes are either killed or suffer serious head injuries. People are ejected during crashes through the windshield after it pops out of the vehicle frame, through side windows that crumble in a crash that leave gaping holes, and through open doors because door locks and latches fail to keep the vehicle doors closed. Despite these dangers, no government safety standard exists to prevent people from being ejected during a crash. Do you believe the government should or should not set standards for the auto manufacturers to prevent people from being ejected from motor vehicles in crashes?
Q5b. A number of improved methods to prevent ejection already exist, but are not installed in all vehicles. In order to prevent ejections during accidents, would you favor or oppose the government requiring passenger vehicles to have (ASK EACH ITEM)?
1. Stronger vehicle roofs so that windshields don't pop out of their frame so easily during a crash?
2. Safer door locks and latches so that doors do not fly open in crashes?
3. Stronger side door window glass, like that in windshields, that won't crumble in a crash?
4. Side airbag curtains that drop from the vehicle roof and come between the person and the side door and window?
Q5c. Most people ejected from vehicles in crashes are not buckled up with seat belts. But, even people who are buckled up in lap and shoulder seatbelts can be thrown out of a vehicle window or door in side impact and rollover crashes. These people can suffer serious injuries. Such ejections can be prevented by improvements in seat belts and vehicle seats. Do you favor or oppose the government requiring better seat belts to prevent people from being ejected in crashes?
Q5d. Many of the improvements we have been discussing already are available in some expensive makes and models and some are offered as options on other vehicles. Should these improvements be required by the federal government to be offered as standard equipment on all vehicle makes and models or not?
Q5e. (T) Suppose an auto manufacturer were to come up with a car that has better safety systems to prevent rollover, better roof crush protection, and better side protection. Would you be willing or unwilling to pay between $200 and $300 more to have these improved safety features in our car?
Q5f. (T) Would you be willing to pay $100 to $200 more for these improved safety features in your car?
Q5g. (T) Would you be willing to pay between $50 and $100 more for improved safety features in your car?
Q6c. Auto manufacturers now are able to build child safety seats into the vehicle's back seat. These seats fold out when needed, and then fold back into the seat, out of sight, when not in use. Do you feel that having this feature in your car would be more convenient and easier to use than a separate seat you have to attach yourself, or not?
Q6d. Let me ask you about another problem involving children and auto safety. Each year, many children are killed or injured when vehicles back over them in driveways or parking lots. All vehicles have blind spots directly behind them, resulting in the driver not being able to see an object or person in their path when they are backing up. The blind spot behind SUVs, pickup trucks, and mini-vans is larger than the blind spot behind regular cars. If you were buying a new car, would you want or not want to have some type of equipment that would allow you to see if anyone or anything was in the blind spot?
Q6e. On a hot day, it can get over 100 degrees inside a closed vehicle. When children are left alone in parked cars on hot days, they can suffer severe dehydration, heat stroke or even death. Last year, 42 children died this way. Would you favor or oppose state laws that make it illegal to leave children alone in a parked vehicle?
Q6e1. Would you favor or oppose technology added to vehicles that would alert the driver when a child is left in the back seat, such as a buzzer -- like what happens when keys are left in the ignition or the headlights are left on?
Q7a. (T) One of the causes of truck crashes is driver fatigue. Rules governing the hours a truck driver spends driving a truck are difficult to enforce because drivers keep paper logs that can easily be tampered with or falsified. Technology exists like black boxes, costing a few hundred dollars that can enforce driving rules. Many trucks are already equipped with these black boxes. Would you favor or oppose mandatory installation of such black boxes in big trucks that travel long distances with heavy loads?
Q7b. (T) Right now there are federal laws that control the size and weight of trucks allowed on highways. The trucking industry would like to change the laws to allow bigger, heavier trucks. Do you support or oppose allowing trucks to carry bigger loads?
Q7c. Do you think that trucks pulling two or more trailers are safer, just as safe, or less safe than trucks pulling only one trailer?
F1. Sex (By Observation. (DO NOT ASK.)
F2. How old are you?
F3. Is the head of this household presently single, married, widowed, divorced, separated, or living with a partner?
F4. Which of these best describes the income bracket for your total household income last year?
F5. What is the last grade or highest level of school you completed? (READ LIST IF NECESSARY)
F6. Which of the following vehicles do you or members of your family own or drive - a van, a pickup truck, a sport utility vehicle, another type of passenger car, or a motorcycle? (MULTIPLE RECORD.)
Between May 14, 2004 and June 3, 2004, the Peter Harris Research Group on behalf of Louis Harris interviewed by telephone 1,003 randomly selected adults aged 18 years or older for Advocates for Highways and Auto Safety. Every household in the nation with a telephone had roughly an equal chance to participate in the survey.
The interview averaged 15.5 minutes in length. At the 95% level of confidence, the margin of error for a representative, national cross-section survey of 1003 respondents is approximately ±3.1 percentage points.
The sample was prepared by Marketing Systems Group. The overall sample was prepared in replicates of 100. Each replicate is a proportionate, representative sample of the nation as a whole. We used the Genesys "National Plus" sample, already cleaned for business, fax, and non-working numbers.
Peter Harris Research Group, Inc. ("PHRG") conducted the telephone interviewing for the 2004 Highway Safety Survey using its computer-assisted telephone interviewing ("CATI") system purchased from Sawtooth Technologies. PHRG is a full-service market research company located in New York City that has been in continuous operation since 1994.
The raw survey data were weighted according to data obtained from the United States Census Bureau on the national distribution of the population by age, gender, region, Hispanic population, and race among non-Latino groups.
Quality Control Procedures
Several quality assurance procedures are in place at PHRG:
First, PHRG is very selective in its hiring of telephone interviewers. PHRG hires only those interviewers who can meet its top-quality standards. Interviewers must be highly articulate (over 90% of our workforce is drawn from the New York City performing arts community), courteous, professional, and accurate in their keystrokes. PHRG pays its interviewers above scale and knows for a fact that higher-skilled interviews achieve the highest cooperation and production rates.
Second, PHRG monitors interviewers on a regular basis. Monitoring enables PHRG to ensure clear, courteous, and non-biasing reading of survey questions, accurate keystrokes, and completeness of interviewing. It enables PHRG to ensure optimal skill development and data collection accuracy.
Third, PHRG verifies at least 10% of each interviewer's work; that is, PHRG calls back at least 10% of the respondents who completed interviews with each interviewer and verifies the answers to several questions. This gives PHRG additional information on the accuracy of interviewers' data entry and whether or not any systemic issues pertain to questions. Typically, PHRG will verify several factual and attitudinal questions.
Respondents were attempted up to six times. Academic research has demonstrated this to be the optimal number combining thoroughness and cost efficiency.
A total of 13 interviewers worked on the 2004 Highway Safety Survey. PHRG interviewing staff reflects racial and gender diversity. Our experience indicates that between 10 and 15 interviewers is optimal for a study such as this because it ensures excellent quality control and optimal length in field.