Driver Distraction: The Effects of Concurrent In-Vehicle Tasks, Road Environment Complexity and Age on Driving Performance

One important aspect of safe driving is the minimization of various distractions, both inside and outside the vehicle. The findings of a simulator study that examined the effects of distraction upon driving performance for drivers in three age groups are presented in this article. The two in-vehicle distracter tasks that were used were (1) operating the vehicle entertainment system, and (2) conducting a simulated hands-free mobile phone conversation. The effect of visual clutter was examined by requiring participants to drive in simple and complex road environments. Overall measures of driving performance were collected, as were the responses to roadway hazards and subjective measures of driver perceived workload. The two in-vehicle distraction tasks degraded overall driving performance, degraded responses to hazards and increased subjective workload. The performance decrements that occurred as a result of in-vehicle distraction were seen in both the simple and complex highway environments. They were also observed in drivers of various age groups. An essential observable difference was that older drivers traveled at lower mean speeds in the complex highway environment compared with younger drivers. This simulator study demonstrated that both in-vehicle tasks impaired numerous aspects of driving performance, with the entertainment system distracter having the greatest negative impact on performance.


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  • Accession Number: 01013462
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI
  • Created Date: Dec 17 2005 4:48PM