On-Road Study of Willingness to Engage in Distracting Tasks

This experiment addressed drivers’ willingness to engage in various sorts of potentially distracting tasks. Eighty-eight participants were equally distributed among four age groups: teen (16-17), young (18-24), middle (25-59), and older (60+).There were two parts to the data collection: an on-road portion and a take-home booklet portion. In the on-road portion, participants drove their own vehicles over a specified route. At selected points, the experimenter described a specific in-vehicle task. Participants rated how willing they would be to engage in that task at that time and place. Participants also rated how risky it would be to engage in that task at that time and place. Participants did not actually engage in the task. Eighty-one on-road situations were included, where a situation was the combination of a specific in-vehicle task and a specific driving location and maneuver. The in-vehicle tasks included various activities involving cell phones, PDAs, and navigation systems. The take-home booklet sought information about the participant’s familiarity with various in-vehicle technologies, additional situations for willingness and risk ratings, stated reasons underlying ratings, and self-ratings of certain aspects of driving behavior and decision-making style. Ratings of willingness and of risk were highly correlated and yielded essentially the same findings. Analyses examined in detail the relationship of willingness to engage in a task as a function of specific tasks, driver age and sex, driving maneuvers and roadway types, environmental factors, familiarity with the technology, and individual driver attributes related to driving style, decision style, and multitasking. Differences in willingness, risk perception, and stated reasons for ratings were seen among age groups. Willingness to engage in potentially distracting activities was also related to more general driver attributes of driving intensity and multitasking.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Prevention Research Branch, Division of Epidemiology, Statistics, and Prevention Research, contributed funding specifically for the inclusion of teenage study participants (under Contract GS-23F-8144H: Pilot Assessment of Young Driver Distraction).
  • Corporate Authors:

    Westat, Incorporated

    1650 Research Boulevard
    Rockville, MD  United States  20850

    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • Lerner, Neil
    • Boyd, Shelley
  • Publication Date: 2005-3


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Task Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 102p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01374452
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: HS-810 863
  • Contract Numbers: DTNH22-99-D-07005
  • Files: HSL, TRIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jun 29 2012 9:26AM