HFES Journal Quantifies Texting While Driving's Effects

The study of 20 young drivers showed they were more likely to miss lane changes and to vary their lane position and following distances when texting as they drove.

Two new articles published in Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society examine the effects of texting while driving and the influence of a training video that shows drivers the problems associated with distracted driving. Training videos are beneficial, the latter article states, while the texting study of 20 young drivers showed they were more likely to miss lane changes and to vary their lane position and following distances.

Authors Simon G. Hosking, Kristie L. Young, and Michael A. Regan of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation of Australia's Department of Defence measured how long 20 young novice drivers texting with a cell phone spent not looking at the road and found the time was as much as 400 percent greater than during non-texting conditions. Drivers' variability in lane position increased up to about 50 percent, missed lane changes rose by 140 percent, and variability in following distances to lead vehicles rose by about 150 percent.

The second study evaluated the impact of a computer-based training module about distractions on drivers' attitudes and behaviors. Forty drivers ages 18 to 20 were divided into a training group and a control group that viewed an unrelated video. Drivers performed in-vehicle tasks while driving an instrumented vehicle on a closed test track. The researchers found drivers in the training group showed a decline in their ratings of willingness to engage in distracting activities and a corresponding increase in perceived risk. They also were more likely to perform in-vehicle tasks while the vehicle was parked than were drivers in the control group, whose ratings had not changed. This paper, "Effects of a Computer-Based Training Module on Drivers' Willingness to Engage in Distracting Activities," was prepared by Liberty Mutual's William J. Horrey, Mary F. Lesch, Arthur F. Kramer, Ph.D., and David F. Melton.

Both articles are available through OnlineFirst, a feature offered through SAGE's electronic journal platform, SAGE Journals Online.

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