Driver distraction: the effects of concurrent in-vehicle tasks, road environment complexity and age on driving performance

Accid Anal Prev. 2006 Jan;38(1):185-91. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2005.09.007. Epub 2005 Oct 12.


This paper presents the findings of a simulator study that examined the effects of distraction upon driving performance for drivers in three age groups. There were two in-vehicle distracter tasks: operating the vehicle entertainment system and conducting a simulated hands-free mobile phone conversation. The effect of visual clutter was examined by requiring participants to drive in simple and complex road environments. Overall measures of driving performance were collected, together with responses to roadway hazards and subjective measures of driver perceived workload. The two in-vehicle distraction tasks degraded overall driving performance, degraded responses to hazards and increased subjective workload. The performance decrements that occurred as a result of in-vehicle distraction were observed in both the simple and complex highway environments and for drivers in different age groups. One key difference was that older drivers traveled at lower mean speeds in the complex highway environment compared with younger drivers. The conclusions of the research are that both in-vehicle tasks impaired several aspects of driving performance, with the entertainment system distracter having the greatest negative impact on performance, and that these findings were relatively stable across different driver age groups and different environmental complexities.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / prevention & control*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention*
  • Automobile Driving* / psychology
  • Cell Phone
  • Computer Simulation
  • Environment*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Task Performance and Analysis*