Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate if a verbal task can improve alertness and if performance changes are associated with changes in alertness as measured by EEG.
Background: Previous research has shown that a secondary task can improve performance on a short, monotonous drive. The current work extends this by examining longer, fatiguing drives. The study also uses EEG to confirm that improved driving performance is concurrent with improved driver alertness.
Method: A 90-min, monotonous simulator drive was used to place drivers in a fatigued state. Four secondary tasks were used: no verbal task, continuous verbal task, late verbal task, and a passive radio task.
Results: When engaged in a secondary verbal task at the end of the drive, drivers showed improved lane-keeping performance and had improvements in neurophysiological measures of alertness.
Conclusion: A strategically timed concurrent task can improve performance even for fatiguing drives.
Application: Secondary-task countermeasures may prove useful for enhancing driving performance across a range of driving conditions.