Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Shows Hands-free Cell Phones Dangerously Distracted Drivers' Attention

Date:
November 15, 2004
Source:
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Driving with one hand on the wheel and another on a cell phone has led to legal restrictions and proposals to require drivers to use hands-free phones. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have tested the hands-free approach and found that drivers – young and old – struggled to see dangerous scenarios appearing in front of them.

Psychology professor Art Kramer conducted tests with hands-free phone users in a virtual reality suite at Illinois. He found that both young adults and older adults tended to show deficits in driver performance.
Credit: Photo by Kwame Ross

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Driving with one hand on the wheel and another on a cell phone has led to legal restrictions and proposals to require drivers to use hands-free phones.

Hello?

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have tested the hands-free approach and found that drivers – young and old – struggled to see dangerous scenarios appearing in front of them.

The experiments, reported in the Fall 2004 issue of the journal Human Factors, were conducted in a virtual reality suite at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. Eye-tracking techniques allowed researchers to see the effects of distractions.

“With younger adults, everything got worse,” said Arthur F. Kramer, a professor of psychology. “What we found was that both young adults and older adults tended to show deficits in performance. They made more errors in detecting important changes and they took longer to react to the changes.” The impaired reactions, he said, were “in terms of seconds, not just milliseconds, which means many yards in terms of stopping distances.”

For the experiment, 14 young licensed drivers (mean age 21.4) with at least one year behind the wheel and 14 older, experienced drivers (mean age 68.4) actively engaged in a casual hands-free phone conversation.

As they talked, they faced a flickering 6-foot-by-3.5-foot screen on which digitally manipulated images of Chicago traffic and architecture continually changed. Each flicker, which simulated eye movements, resulted in a change of scenery that might or might not be important to a driver – a child running into a driver’s path, a simple change in a theater sign or bright or subtle color changes.

The older adults were able to detect changes related to salience, such as colors becoming brighter. However, their ability to detect changes that should be important to a driver dipped significantly.

“For the older adults, it was quite scary in that contextual restraints no longer drove their eye-scanning strategies,” Kramer said. “When they were in a conversation on a cell phone, they were no longer any faster or any more accurate in their ability to detect meaningful changes, such as a little girl running between cars in traffic, than they were able to detect changes that were not meaningful to driving safely.”

Younger subjects did detect relevant changes more readily and with fewer errors than older adults, but their reaction times were slowed. “When you are driving, you often don’t have extra seconds to react,” Kramer said.

In another experiment, the researchers found no significant negative impairments among participants who simply listened on hands-free phones as others carried on a conversation. The subjects were 13 young adults (mean age 20.64) and 13 older adults (mean age 67.33).

Kramer theorized that the requirement to comprehend and generate speech during a conversation results in interference with the scanning of driving scenes. Comprehension, in the absence of the need to generate coherent responses, requires fewer mental resources and, therefore, does not interfere with change detection in driving scenes.

Kramer’s team now is conducing similar experiments in a driving simulator.

The six co-authors of the research were Kramer, Jason S. McCarley and David E. Irwin, all of the U. of I. psychology department; graduate students Margaret J. Vais and Heather Pringle (now on the faculty at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.); and David L. Strayer, a professor of psychology at the University of Utah.

General Motors and the National Institute on Aging funded the research through a grant to Kramer. McCarley was supported by a Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. "Study Shows Hands-free Cell Phones Dangerously Distracted Drivers' Attention." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 November 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041115002339.htm>.
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. (2004, November 15). Study Shows Hands-free Cell Phones Dangerously Distracted Drivers' Attention. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 3, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041115002339.htm
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. "Study Shows Hands-free Cell Phones Dangerously Distracted Drivers' Attention." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041115002339.htm (accessed September 3, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Halliburton Reaches $1B Gulf Spill Settlement

Halliburton Reaches $1B Gulf Spill Settlement

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) Halliburton's agreement to pay more than $1 billion to settle numerous claims involving the 2010 BP oil spill could be a way to diminish years of costly litigation. A federal judge still has to approve the settlement. (Sept. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google Teases India Event, Possible Android One Reveal

Google Teases India Event, Possible Android One Reveal

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) Google has announced a Sept. 15 event in India during which they're expected to reveal their Android One phones. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins