Driving performance during concurrent cell-phone use: are drivers aware of their performance decrements?

Accid Anal Prev. 2004 May;36(3):471-80. doi: 10.1016/S0001-4575(03)00042-3.


Prior research has documented the manner in which a variety of driving performance measures are impacted by concurrent cell-phone use as well as the influence of age and gender of the driver. This current study examined the extent to which different driver groups are aware of their associated performance decrements. Subjects' confidence in dealing with distractors while driving and their ratings of task performance and demand were compared with their actual driving performance in the presence of a cell-phone task. While high confidence ratings appeared to be predictive of better driving performance for male drivers (as confidence increased, the size of the distraction effects decreased), this relationship did not hold for females; in fact, for older females, as confidence increased, performance decreased. Additionally, when drivers were matched in terms of confidence level, brake responses of older females were slowed to a much greater extent (0.38 s) than were brake responses of any other group (0.10s for younger males and females and 0.07 s for older males). Finally, females also rated the driving task as less demanding than males, even though their performance was more greatly affected by distraction. These results suggest that many drivers may not be aware of their decreased performance while using cell-phones and that it may be particularly important to target educational campaigns on driver distraction towards female drivers for whom there tended to be a greater discrepancy between driver perceptions and actual performance.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Attention
  • Automobile Driving / education
  • Automobile Driving / psychology*
  • Awareness
  • Cell Phone*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reaction Time*
  • Sex Factors
  • Task Performance and Analysis