Post and during event effect of cell phone talking and texting on driving performance--a driving simulator study

Traffic Inj Prev. 2015;16(5):461-7. doi: 10.1080/15389588.2014.969803. Epub 2015 Jan 28.


Objective: A number of studies have been done in the field of driver distraction, specifically on the use of cell phone for either conversation or texting while driving. Researchers have focused on the driving performance of drivers when they were actually engaged in the task; that is, during the texting or phone conversation event. However, it is still unknown whether the impact of cell phone usages ceases immediately after the end of task. The primary objective of this article is to analyze the post-event effect of cell phone usage (texting and conversation) in order to verify whether the distracting effect lingers after the actual event has ceased.

Methods: This study utilizes a driving simulator study of 36 participants to test whether a significant decrease in driver performance occurs during cell phone usage and after usage. Surrogate measures used to represent lateral and longitudinal control of the vehicle were standard deviation (SD) of lane position and mean velocity, respectively.

Results: RESULTS suggest that there was no significant decrease in driver performance (both lateral and longitudinal control) during and after the cell phone conversation. For the texting event, there were significant decreases in driver performance in both the longitudinal and lateral control of the vehicle during the actual texting task. The diminished longitudinal control ceased immediately after the texting event but the diminished lateral control lingered for an average of 3.38 s. The number of text messages exchanged did not affect the magnitude or duration of the diminished lateral control.

Conclusion: The result indicates that the distraction and subsequent elevated crash risk of texting while driving linger even after the texting event has ceased. This finding has safety and policy implications in reducing distracted driving.

Keywords: cell phone effect; distracted driving; driver performance; driving simulator; lateral control; longitudinal control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Automobile Driving / psychology*
  • Automobile Driving / statistics & numerical data
  • Cell Phone*
  • Communication
  • Computer Simulation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Text Messaging*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult