The temptation to text when driving – Many young drivers just can't resist

When questioned, people clearly understand that texting while driving is a dangerous behaviour. However, evidence convincingly shows that a meaningful proportion continue to both read and write texts. Why is this? People prospectively recognise the risks associated with the task; yet in context, many are unable to restrain their behaviour for the greater good. This paper reports a simulator study investigating young drivers’ engagement with texting. It considers, (i) willingness to text, and (ii) the nature of the temptation (modest financial reward or penalty).The study had a mixed design with all Participants experiencing a ‘temptation to text’ condition (and a control). During the ‘temptation to text’ condition, half the sample were offered either the financial reward to incentivise responses, while the others had an equivalent penalty. Ultimately, all participants received full compensation. Driver performance and mental workload measures were collected as proxy indicators for behavioural impacts.Results are consistent with previous published studies and showed significantly increased workload. Similarly, vehicle performance was also found to be significantly worse when texting and driving. However, the primary goal of this study was to explore the willingness of young drivers to read and respond to mobile phone ‘texts’ when tempted to do so. Engagement with texting was found to be significantly higher than hypothesised with 60% of participants responding to text messages. Adoption of short headways was found to be predictive of an inclination to text. Socio-technical implications are considered with respect to the potential to reduce texting while driving.


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  • Accession Number: 01717559
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 31 2019 3:05PM