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Distracted Driving Up Close: Effects of Driver Distraction on Vehicle Control
DescriptionPerforming a secondary task while driving impairs various performance measures, including speed control. Distraction is associated with reductions in driving speed; however, this is often based on global measures of performance, such as course completion time or mean speed. This study investigated how a secondary task affected granular speed variation. Participants (N=16, aged 18-43) performed a secondary task of mentally subtracting pairs of numbers while negotiating a simulated road course. Driving performance measures were obtained but only results for longitudinal velocity are reported. The results reveal that drivers exhibited significant increases and decreases (>2+/- SD) in vehicle speed under distraction. Speed-ups comprised ≈40% of the events and slow-downs comprised ≈60%. This may explain why global measures of driving speed under distraction reveal a slowing down. These results may increase our understanding of the nuanced effects of distraction on driving and be useful for predicting/diagnosing distracted driving behavior.