Effects of Visual and Cognitive Load in Real and Simulated Motorway Driving

This study is part of the European Union HASTE (Human Machine Interface and the Safety of Traffic in Europe) project to develop an assessment protocol for evaluating the potential distraction and effect on driving performance of an in-vehicle information system. In this project, effects of visual and cognitive demand on driving performance and driver state were systematically investigated by means of artificial, or surrogate, in-vehicle information systems (S-IVIS). This paper reports results from simulated and real motorway driving. Data were collected in a fixed base simulator, a moving base simulator and an instrumented vehicle driven in real traffic. The data collected included speed, lane keeping performance, steering wheel movements, eye movements, physiological signals and self-reported driving performance. The results show that the effects of visual and cognitive load affect driving performance in qualitatively different ways. Visual demand led to reduced speed and increased lane keeping variation. By contrast, cognitive load did not affect speed and resulted in reduced lane keeping variation. Moreover, the cognitive load resulted in increased gaze concentration towards the road centre. Both S-IVIS had an effect on physiological signals and the drivers’ assessment of their own driving performance. These findings also suggest that none of the measures reported in the present study are particularly well-suited for safety evaluation of cognitively loading tasks and that event detection measures are required to capture the main safety-related effects of cognitive load.


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  • Accession Number: 01002504
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI
  • Created Date: Jul 28 2005 11:29PM