Cell phone-induced failures of visual attention during simulated driving

J Exp Psychol Appl. 2003 Mar;9(1):23-32. doi: 10.1037/1076-898x.9.1.23.


This research examined the effects of hands-free cell phone conversations on simulated driving. The authors found that these conversations impaired driver's reactions to vehicles braking in front of them. The authors assessed whether this impairment could be attributed to a withdrawal of attention from the visual scene, yielding a form of inattention blindness. Cell phone conversations impaired explicit recognition memory for roadside billboards. Eye-tracking data indicated that this was due to reduced attention to foveal information. This interpretation was bolstered by data showing that cell phone conversations impaired implicit perceptual memory for items presented at fixation. The data suggest that the impairment of driving performance produced by cell phone conversations is mediated, at least in part, by reduced attention to visual inputs.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Automobile Driving*
  • Cell Phone*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reaction Time
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Visual Perception*