Driver distraction

Title: The impact of attentional set and situation awareness on dual tasking driving performance

Organisation: University of Sussex & Open University
Date uploaded: 5th February 2019
Date published/launched: September 2017

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Highlights
Dual taskers use enduring attentional sets when resources are shared between tasks.
Reliance on attentional set contributes to decreased detection of unexpected events.
Distraction leads to longer reaction times for unexpected events.

Abstract
The impact of attentional set and situation awareness on event detection and reaction times was investigated in two simulated driving experiments.

Experiment 1: 30 participants viewed and reacted to 30 driving films containing unexpected items which were either driving congruent or incongruent. Group 1 completed the task without distraction; group 2 completed a concurrent conversation task.

Experiment 2: 30 participants viewed and reacted to 20 driving films which contained unexpected yet driving relevant events. Half of the participants completed the task without distraction and half completed a concurrent conversation task.

Measures of event detection and reaction time were recorded for both experiments. Compared to undistracted participants, dual-taskers reacted to fewer unexpected events; recorded longer reaction times; and reacted to fewer incongruent and peripheral events, suggesting an enduring attentional set for driving.

Dual tasking drivers may adopt a strategy of over-reliance on schema-driven processing when attention is shared between tasks.

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