The Role of Self-Regulation in the Context of Driver Distraction: A Simulator Study

There is considerable evidence for the negative effects of driver distraction on road safety. In many experimental studies, drivers have been primarily viewed as passive receivers of distraction. Thus, there is a lack of research on the mediating role of their self-regulatory behavior. The aim of the current study was to compare drivers' performance when engaged in a system-paced secondary task with a self-paced version of this task and how both differed from baseline driving performance without distraction. Thirty-nine participants drove in a simulator while performing a secondary visual–manual task. One group of drivers had to work on this task in predefined situations under time pressure, whereas the other group was free to decide when to work on the secondary task (self-regulation group). Drivers' performance (e.g., lateral and longitudinal control, brake reaction times) was also compared with a baseline condition without any secondary task. For the system-paced secondary task, distraction was associated with high decrements in driving performance (especially in keeping the lateral position). No effects were found for the number of collisions, probably because of the lower driving speeds while distracted (compensatory behavior). For the self-regulation group, only small impairments in driving performance were found. Drivers engaged less in the secondary task during foreseeable demanding or critical driving situations. Overall, drivers in the self-regulation group were able to anticipate the demands of different traffic situations and to adapt their engagement in the secondary task, so that only small impairments in driving performance occurred. Because in real traffic drivers are mostly free to decide when to engage in secondary tasks, it can be concluded that self-regulation should be considered in driver distraction research to ensure ecological validity.


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  • Accession Number: 01605190
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 12 2016 3:00PM