Have you ever written or read text messages or emails while driving a car? In many but not all states in the United States it is illegal now, and in a number of other countries it is illegal as well. When surveyed, most people in the US said they wanted a ban on it.
But what about other distractions in the real world while we are driving or walking or otherwise moving about? What are the human factors involved? Why can we perform some tasks concurrently and not others? Where do we draw the line?
Frank Drews and his colleagues at the University of Utah conducted a study to identify the impact of text messaging on simulated driving performance. They noted that over the past decade, a number of studies reported the negative impact of talking on a cell phone while driving.
However, they were interested in better understanding the specific impact of text messaging. They used a high-fidelity driving simulator, so they could better control the experimental conditions and, of course, not risk anyone’s life!
They observed 40 participants in single-task (driving) and dual-task (driving and text messaging) situations.
They found that participants in the dual-task condition responded more slowly to brake lights on the car in front of them, and showed impairments in forward control (e.g., more erratic following of a car in front) and lateral control (e.g., drifting across lanes) compared with a driving-only condition.
Further, text-messaging drivers were involved in more crashes than drivers not engaged in text messaging.
They concluded that text messaging while driving has a negative impact on simulated driving performance, and the negative impact exceeded that of conversing on a cell phone while driving. But why?
Certainly text messaging not only requires attention, but it also requires additional focusing on the phone itself when composing or reading messages, i.e., potentially more time with eyes off the road.
And it seems that drivers attempt to divide attention between phone conversations and driving, adjusting the mental processing priority of the two activities depending on external task demands.
By contrast, text messaging appears to be more consistent with a switching model of attention, in which attention is allocated in large part EITHER to driving OR to text messaging. When drivers have switched their attention to the text messaging task, their reaction times to braking events are substantially higher, reflecting a substantial cost of task switching.
So what about using that smart phone in another mode ‚ÄĒ for talking? Is that safe?
Even with a hands-free device, most of the impairment comes from talking on the phone and not holding it. David Strayer and colleagues at the University of Utah found that talking on a handheld OR hands-free cell phone impairs driving ability equally. Some reviewers of this research argue that to reduce accidents, cell phone use needs to be banned completely during driving.
These empirical results increase our understanding of driver distraction and have implications for safety and design.
So meanwhile back in the kitchen, I can sing and cook as I successfully divide attention between the lyrics of a song and the ingredients in a recipe in a relatively safe environment. However, when I slide in behind the wheel of my car, I need to pay attention to the task of driving!
Drews, F.A., Yazdani, H., Godfrey, C. N., Cooper, J. M., Strayer, D. L. (2009). Text messaging during simulated driving. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 51: 762. http://hfs.sagepub.com/content/51/5/762
Photo from: http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2010/0618/Texting-while-driving-Adults-are-just-as-bad-as-teens-study-finds
Figure from: David L. Strayer, Jason M. Watson, and Frank A. Drews, Cognitive Distraction While Multitasking in the Automobile. In Brian Ross, editor: The Psychology of Learning and Motivation, Vol. 54, Burlington: Academic Press, 2011, pp. 29-58.
I have no argument with the premise that texting while driving creates some dangers as does talking on the cell phone. I wonder how this compares with the dangers of talking with passengers in the car, or dealing with children who are misbehaving in the back seat while driving.... Is driving a safe activity? Perhaps the best option the robot driver. But I hate the idea of giving up the feeling of control.
This is a very systematic explanation of such a big issue on roads. Simulated driving while texting or calling by offenders can be a nice lesson for them to understand that they don't work the way they think they can work.
This is eye opening! This fascinating research is a lesson to me to take these risks more seriously and have less blind confidence in my ability to multi-task while driving. Thanks for publishing this study.
A significant factor in behavior of humans is that of learning to respond to stimuli. Unfortunately, in many cases there is no association with the environmental conditions. This factor must be included in procedures that will check the use of texting in inappropriate circumstances.
Sign up to get our Newsletter delivered straight to your inbox
HFI may use ‚Äúcookies‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúweb beacons‚ÄĚ to track how Users use the Website. A cookie is a piece of software that a web server can store on Users‚Äô PCs and use to identify Users should they visit the Website again. Users may adjust their web browser software if they do not wish to accept cookies. To withdraw your consent after accepting a cookie, delete the cookie from your computer.
HFI believes that every User should know how it utilizes the information collected from Users. The Website is not directed at children under 13 years of age, and HFI does not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from children under 13 years of age online. Please note that the Website may contain links to other websites. These linked sites may not be operated or controlled by HFI. HFI is not responsible for the privacy practices of these or any other websites, and you access these websites entirely at your own risk. HFI recommends that you review the privacy practices of any other websites that you choose to visit.
HFI is based, and this website is hosted, in the United States of America. If User is from the European Union or other regions of the world with laws governing data collection and use that may differ from U.S. law and User is registering an account on the Website, visiting the Website, purchasing products or services from HFI or the Website, or otherwise using the Website, please note that any personally identifiable information that User provides to HFI will be transferred to the United States. Any such personally identifiable information provided will be processed and stored in the United States by HFI or a service provider acting on its behalf. By providing your personally identifiable information, User hereby specifically and expressly consents to such transfer and processing and the uses and disclosures set forth herein.
In the course of its business, HFI may perform expert reviews, usability testing, and other consulting work where personal privacy is a concern. HFI believes in the importance of protecting personal information, and may use measures to provide this protection, including, but not limited to, using consent forms for participants or ‚Äúdummy‚ÄĚ test data.
HFI may use personally identifiable information collected through the Website for the specific purposes for which the information was collected, to process purchases and sales of products or services offered via the Website if any, to contact Users regarding products and services offered by HFI, its parent, subsidiary and other related companies in order to otherwise to enhance Users‚Äô experience with HFI. HFI may also use information collected through the Website for research regarding the effectiveness of the Website and the business planning, marketing, advertising and sales efforts of HFI. HFI does not sell any User information under any circumstances.
HFI may disclose personally identifiable information collected from Users to its parent, subsidiary and other related companies to use the information for the purposes outlined above, as necessary to provide the services offered by HFI and to provide the Website itself, and for the specific purposes for which the information was collected. HFI may disclose personally identifiable information at the request of law enforcement or governmental agencies or in response to subpoenas, court orders or other legal process, to establish, protect or exercise HFI‚Äôs legal or other rights or to defend against a legal claim or as otherwise required or allowed by law. HFI may disclose personally identifiable information in order to protect the rights, property or safety of a User or any other person. HFI may disclose personally identifiable information to investigate or prevent a violation by User of any contractual or other relationship with HFI or the perpetration of any illegal or harmful activity. HFI may also disclose aggregate, anonymous data based on information collected from Users to investors and potential partners. Finally, HFI may disclose or transfer personally identifiable information collected from Users in connection with or in contemplation of a sale of its assets or business or a merger, consolidation or other reorganization of its business.
If a User includes such User‚Äôs personally identifiable information as part of the User posting to the Website, such information may be made available to any parties using the Website. HFI does not edit or otherwise remove such information from User information before it is posted on the Website. If a User does not wish to have such User‚Äôs personally identifiable information made available in this manner, such User must remove any such information before posting. HFI is not liable for any damages caused or incurred due to personally identifiable information made available in the foregoing manners. For example, a User posts on an HFI-administered forum would be considered Personal Information as provided by User and subject to the terms of this section.
Information about Users that is maintained on HFI‚Äôs systems or those of its service providers is protected using industry standard security measures. However, no security measures are perfect or impenetrable, and HFI cannot guarantee that the information submitted to, maintained on or transmitted from its systems will be completely secure. HFI is not responsible for the circumvention of any privacy settings or security measures relating to the Website by any Users or third parties.
Human Factors International, Inc.
PO Box 2020
1680 highway 1, STE 3600
Fairfield IA 52556
HFI reserves the right to cancel any course up to 14 (fourteen) days prior to the first day of the course. Registrants will be promptly notified and will receive a full refund or be transferred to the equivalent class of their choice within a 12-month period. HFI is not responsible for travel expenses or any costs that may be incurred as a result of cancellations.
$100 processing fee if cancelling within two weeks of course start date.
4 Pack + Exam registration: Rs. 10,000 per participant processing fee (to be paid by the participant) if cancelling or transferring the course (4 Pack-CUA/CXA) registration before three weeks from the course start date. No refund or carry forward of the course fees if cancelling or transferring the course registration within three weeks before the course start date.
Individual Modules: Rs. 3,000 per participant ‚Äėper module‚Äô processing fee (to be paid by the participant) if cancelling or transferring the course (any Individual HFI course) registration before three weeks from the course start date. No refund or carry forward of the course fees if cancelling or transferring the course registration within three weeks before the course start date.
Exam: Rs. 3,000 per participant processing fee (to be paid by the participant) if cancelling or transferring the pre agreed CUA/CXA exam date before three weeks from the examination date. No refund or carry forward of the exam fees if requesting/cancelling or transferring the CUA/CXA exam within three weeks before the examination date.
There will be no audio or video recording allowed in class. Students who have any disability that might affect their performance in this class are encouraged to speak with the instructor at the beginning of the class.
The course and training materials and all other handouts provided by HFI during the course are published, copyrighted works proprietary and owned exclusively by HFI. The course participant does not acquire title nor ownership rights in any of these materials. Further the course participant agrees not to reproduce, modify, and/or convert to electronic format (i.e., softcopy) any of the materials received from or provided by HFI. The materials provided in the class are for the sole use of the class participant. HFI does not provide the materials in electronic format to the participants in public or onsite courses.