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Whitney N. Street, John G. Gaspar, Matthew B. Windsor, Ronald Carbonari, Henry Kaczmarski, Arthur F. Kramer, Kyle E. Mathewson; Amelioration of the distracting effect of cellphone driving. Journal of Vision 2014;14(10):531. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/14.10.531.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Cellphone use is known to impair driving performance, yet persists. This impairment is thought to stem, in part, from the remote conversation partner's lack of situational awareness. In this study, pairs of participants completed a driving task in a high-fidelity driving simulator while naturally conversing. Similar to previous studies, drivers drove alone, with a passenger, and talking on a hands-free cellphone. Additionally, drivers completed the task while their conversation partner could see both the road ahead and the driver's face via a video feed (videophone). If the situational awareness theory is true, this additional video information should mitigate the negative effects of cellphone distraction. When another vehicle unexpectedly merged, collision rates were significantly higher in the cellphone condition than the videophone, passenger, or drive-alone conditions which were equivalent. No group differences were found in collision rates during lead-vehicle braking events. Additionally, both drivers and their conversation partners made shorter utterances when on the videophone. When referring to traffic, videophone drivers and partners took more turns talking and made longer, more frequent traffic references. Therefore, additional video seen only by the conversation partner changed the conversation dynamics and decreased the likelihood of a collision with an unexpected merging vehicle. Unlike in-car passengers who mostly looked at the road, videophone partners looked about equally at the driver's face and the road suggesting that out-of-car partners are attaining their situational awareness differently or possibly less optimally than in-car passengers. The remote conversation partner's additional video information allows them to help drivers by modulating the dynamics of the conversation and referring to traffic more often, cutting the likelihood of collisions in half. This finding has direct applications to distracted driving. Further research is needed to investigate if this benefit remains when the videophone conversation partner is distracted as occurs in the real world.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2014
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