Texting and Driving

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The distracting and dangerous effects of phone use on driving are publicly well known. Nonetheless, many drivers still engage in phone use while driving, especially in texting and especially among young drivers. With continuously advancing technology new forms of messaging gain popularity, with smartphones allowing to send photos, videos or voice messages. Effects of new answer modes on driving performance are not completely clear and show need for research. This study aims to examine the effects of different answer modes on driving performance by comparing text and voice messages, while also varying complexity of messages. Twenty-four students (12 females) attended a driving simulator study. Participants’ ages ranged from 19 to 25 years (M = 20.83, SD = 1.53). They completed the Lane Change Task (LCT) with baseline and dual-task runs. During dual-task runs, participants answered to text messages on a smartphone by voice or by text message and by copying or sorting the messages alphabetically beforehand. Driving performance was measured in terms of lane deviation in the LCT and subjective measures (NASA-TLX) were obtained. Across all trials, driving performance deteriorated during dual-task runs in comparison to baseline runs and subjective demand increased. Analysis of dual-task runs showed a benefit for voice messages, which was mostly lost as task complexity increased. Benefits of using voice messages in comparison to text messages were found regarding driving performance and subjective measures. Nevertheless, this benefit gets mostly lost as task complexity increases and baseline performance cannot be reached. Therefore, it still remains important to avoid sending messages via smartphone while driving at all times.

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