Distracted driving caused by voice message apps: A series of experimental studies

Hand-free voice message apps are frequently used by young people while driving. Previous studies have identified voice message apps as a common source of driving distraction. To quantitatively evaluate the factors contributing to driving distractions, three simulated driving experiments were designed using a dual-task experimental paradigm. In Experiment 1, participants completed several common tasks related to voice messages in WeChat with or without manual operations (perceptual-motor distraction). Experiments 2 and 3 further took into consideration the cognitive distraction level, measured by task difficulty and task frequency. The results showed that, in comparison with undistracted driving, the perceptual-motor distraction related to voice message app use significantly (ps < 0.05) weakened young drivers’ driving performance with respect to the standard deviation of lateral position (SDLP) between two cars (0.24 m), response time (0.21 s) and error rate (0.12) to turning lights, and collision percentage (0.54%), similar to the effects induced by non-voice-based apps. There were also significant differences (ps < 0.05) between driving with secondary tasks with and without continuous manual operations in the SDLP between two cars (0.19 m) and in the response time (0.18 s) and error rate (0.10) to turning lights, which indicates that the distracting effect produced by voice-message apps comes from the related manual operations. The effects of cognitive distraction on driving performance mainly depended on task difficulty level. High-difficulty secondary tasks via a voice message app significantly (ps < 0.05) weakened the driving performance in response time (by 0.13 s and 0.13 s compared to low-difficulty and baseline conditions, respectively) and error rate (by 0.07 and 0.07 compared to low-difficulty and baseline conditions, respectively) to turning lights and collision percentage (by 0.90% and 0.80% compared to low-difficulty and baseline conditions, respectively). The findings provide a theoretical reference for analysing the distracting components of voice messages and suggest that drivers should limit the use of these kinds of apps during driving.


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  • Accession Number: 01760048
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Nov 25 2020 3:05PM