Effects of mobile phone distraction on drivers' reaction times

Distraction resulting from mobile phone use whilst driving has been shown to increase the reaction times of drivers, thereby increasing the likelihood of a crash. This study compares the effects of mobile phone conversations on reaction times of drivers responding to traffic events that occur at different points in a driver’s field of view. The CARRS-Q Advanced Driving Simulator was used to test a group of young drivers on various simulated driving tasks including a traffic event that occurred within the driver’s central vision - a lead vehicle braking suddenly; and an event that occurred within the driver’s peripheral vision - a pedestrian entering a zebra crossing from a footpath. Thirty-two licenced drivers drove the simulator in three phone conditions: baseline (no phone conversation), and while engaged in hands-free and handheld phone conversations. The drivers were aged between 21 to 26 years and split evenly by gender. Differences in reaction times for an event in a driver’s central vision were not statistically significant across phone conditions, probably due to a lower speed selection by the distracted drivers. In contrast, the reaction times to detect an event that originated in a distracted driver’s peripheral vision were more than 50 per cent longer compared to the baseline condition. A further statistical analysis revealed that deterioration of reaction times to an event in the peripheral vision was greatest for distracted drivers holding a provisional licence. Many critical events originate in a driver’s periphery, including vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians emerging from side streets. A reduction in the ability to detect these events while distracted presents a significant safety concern that must be addressed.


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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01495574
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: ARRB
  • Files: ITRD, ATRI
  • Created Date: Oct 17 2013 10:07AM