Drivers are prone to distractions while driving, due to conversations they have with passengers on board, processing their thoughts or using their mobile phones. These distractions result in a mental workload that compromises driving safety and requires the implementation of risk compensatory behaviours. This study examines the effects of hands-free mobile phone conversations on young drivers' stopping manoeuvres when a pedestrian enters a zebra crossing. A cohort of seventy-eight university students, aged 20-30 years old, performed a driving task in a virtual urban environment, by means of a virtual car driving simulator. They formed a control and an experimental group, balanced on age and IQ level. The control group was left free to drive without any imposed cognitive task. The experimental group was asked to drive while making a phone call that was planned to diminish the amount of cognitive resources allocated to the driving experience. For both groups, the analyses focused on a specific moment, i.e., while a child suddenly entered a zebra crossing from a sidewalk. Throughout the simulation, the intensity of the participants’ actions on the brake pedal, accelerator, and steering wheel were recorded with a time step of 250 ms. Before the virtual driving experiment, each participant completed a questionnaire on his/her daily driving style, involvement in road accidents, and general mobile phone usage even while driving. A mixed two-way ANOVA with Group as a between-subject factor (1. Control Group; 2. Experimental Group) and Gender (1. Male drivers; 2. Female drivers) as a within-subject factor was performed on the driving parameters as dependent variables. The results showed the presence of a significant difference for distracted and non-distracted drivers with the absence of gender-related differences across the two groups. Participants engaged in a hands-free phone-call while driving assumed lower initial speeds as an element of risk compensation and took the first action to stop at shorter distances from the pedestrian crossing. This suggests a delayed perception of the presence of the pedestrian. In addition, the fluctuation in speed after the distracted driver had released the accelerator pedal reached a statistical significance compared to the control group. These findings suggest that the distraction induced by the use of the mobile phone through the earphones may adversely affect driving behaviour and raise significant safety concerns.

Effects of cognitive distraction on driver’s stopping behaviour: A virtual car driving simulator study

Baldo N.
;
Marini A.;
2020

Abstract

Drivers are prone to distractions while driving, due to conversations they have with passengers on board, processing their thoughts or using their mobile phones. These distractions result in a mental workload that compromises driving safety and requires the implementation of risk compensatory behaviours. This study examines the effects of hands-free mobile phone conversations on young drivers' stopping manoeuvres when a pedestrian enters a zebra crossing. A cohort of seventy-eight university students, aged 20-30 years old, performed a driving task in a virtual urban environment, by means of a virtual car driving simulator. They formed a control and an experimental group, balanced on age and IQ level. The control group was left free to drive without any imposed cognitive task. The experimental group was asked to drive while making a phone call that was planned to diminish the amount of cognitive resources allocated to the driving experience. For both groups, the analyses focused on a specific moment, i.e., while a child suddenly entered a zebra crossing from a sidewalk. Throughout the simulation, the intensity of the participants’ actions on the brake pedal, accelerator, and steering wheel were recorded with a time step of 250 ms. Before the virtual driving experiment, each participant completed a questionnaire on his/her daily driving style, involvement in road accidents, and general mobile phone usage even while driving. A mixed two-way ANOVA with Group as a between-subject factor (1. Control Group; 2. Experimental Group) and Gender (1. Male drivers; 2. Female drivers) as a within-subject factor was performed on the driving parameters as dependent variables. The results showed the presence of a significant difference for distracted and non-distracted drivers with the absence of gender-related differences across the two groups. Participants engaged in a hands-free phone-call while driving assumed lower initial speeds as an element of risk compensation and took the first action to stop at shorter distances from the pedestrian crossing. This suggests a delayed perception of the presence of the pedestrian. In addition, the fluctuation in speed after the distracted driver had released the accelerator pedal reached a statistical significance compared to the control group. These findings suggest that the distraction induced by the use of the mobile phone through the earphones may adversely affect driving behaviour and raise significant safety concerns.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11390/1196071
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