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Stacy A. Balk, Kristin S. Moore, Jay E. Steele, William J. Spearman, Andrew T. Duchowski; Mobile phone use in a driving simulation task: Differences in eye movements. Journal of Vision 2006;6(6):872. doi: 10.1167/6.6.872.
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Every year there are nearly 43,000 traffic fatalities and it is estimated that 25% of crashes involve some degree of driver inattention (NHSTA, 2005,2000). A recent survey revealed 21% of crashes/near crashes reported by respondents involved at least one driver using a mobile phone (Seo&Torabi, 2004). The current study examined the effects of mobile phone use on drivers' attention and eye movements in a low-fidelity simulator. Sixteen Clemson University undergraduate students viewed 24 driving scenarios and responded to questions about vehicular events in the scenes. Eight participants simultaneously performed a language learning task (simulating a mobile phone conversation). The language learning group answered fewer questions about the driving scenes correctly (M=9.3) than the non-language group (M=16). Overall, participants' correctly responded to more scenarios with 4 cars (M=7.3/12) than with 7 cars (M=5.3/12). The total number of fixations on the vehicle(s) involved in the critical event in each scenario was greater for the non-language group (M=471.7) than for the language group (M=300.5). Additionally, participants in the language group who answered the event question correctly spent the same percentage of the total time looking at the vehicle of interest during the event (M=13.5%) as those people who answered incorrectly (M=12.4%). This finding provides support for the ‘look but fail to see’ phenomenon. The mean duration of total fixations was also greater for people in the non-language group (M=9574.5ms) than the language group (M=6523.4ms). This study supports previous findings that increasing mental workload (through mobile phone use, and/or increased traffic) decreases driving performance.
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