The Effects of Time Pressure on Driver Performance and Physiological Activity: A Driving Simulator Study

Speeding because of time pressure is a leading contributor to traffic accidents. Previous research indicates that people respond to time pressure through increased physiological activity and by adapting their task strategy in order to mitigate task demands. In the present driving simulator study, the authors investigated effects of time pressure on measures of eye movement, pupil diameter, cardiovascular and respiratory activity, driving performance, vehicle control, limb movement, head position, and self-reported state. Based on existing theories of human behavior under time pressure, the authors distinguished three categories of results: (1) driving speed, (2) physiological measures, and (3) driving strategies. Fifty-four participants drove a 6.9-km urban track with overtaking, car following, and intersection scenarios, first with no time pressure (NTP) and subsequently with time pressure (TP) induced by a time constraint and a virtual passenger urging to hurry up. The results showed that under TP in comparison to NTP, participants (1) drove significantly faster, an effect that was also reflected in auxiliary measures such as maximum brake position, throttle activity, and lane keeping precision, (2) exhibited increased physiological activity, such as increased heart rate, increased respiration rate, increased pupil diameter, and reduced blink rate, and (3) adopted scenario-specific strategies for effective task completion, such as driving to the left of the lane during car following, and early visual lookout when approaching intersections. The effects of TP relative to NTP were generally large and statistically significant. However, individual differences in absolute values were large. Hence, the authors recommend that real-time driver feedback technologies use relative instead of absolute criteria for assessing the driver’s state.


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  • Accession Number: 01605097
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 19 2016 4:49PM