Physiological and Behavioural Changes Associated to the Management of Secondary Tasks While Driving

Sharing attention between 2 tasks requiring the same mental resources is supposed to increase the resulting strain. Telephoning while driving may elicit cognitive interference between driving operations and conversation and consequently, may affect driving efficiency. The road scene cues may thus be perceived late or even omitted, increasing the probability to be involved in a critical situation. The aim of the experiment was to study how the additional strain elicited by a secondary task may change drivers' arousal with potential consequences on driving performance. Electrodermal activity, heart rate, and reaction time (RT) were the dependent variables. Listening to the radio, holding an in-vehicle or a cell-phone conversation were the secondary communication tasks, performed by 10 participants during a driving sequence on a private circuit. Within nominal driving, each communication task was requested at random to prevent any habituation or anticipation. The cell-phone conversation made RT increase by about 20%, by comparison to the nominal driving condition. Nevertheless, the in-vehicle conversation impacted RT almost in the same proportion. Physiological data showed that arousal level increased as a function of dual-tasks requirements, the in-vehicle conversation eliciting the same strain as the remote conversation. With caution due to contextual differences between these 2 communication tasks, conversing with a passenger was thus as detrimental as using a cell-phone.

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  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Abstract reprinted with permission from Elsevier.
  • Authors:
    • Collet, C
    • Clarion, A
    • Morel, M
    • Chapon, A
    • Petit, C
  • Publication Date: 2009-11


  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01146445
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 7 2009 4:17PM