This research examines age-related differences in the visual, cognitive and temporal demands associated with common in-vehicle tasks using the native infotainment systems found in 6 model year 2018 vehicles.
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This research examines age-related differences in the visual, cognitive and temporal demands associated with common in-vehicle tasks including making a phone call, sending a text message, programming audio entertainment, and programming navigation systems using the native infotainment systems found in 6 model year 2018 vehicles.
Drivers are now able to use In-Vehicle Information Systems (IVIS) to perform a wide variety of tasks while behind the wheel, involving complex and multimodal interactions. These IVIS interactions may distract motorists from the primary task of driving by diverting the eyes, hands and/or mind from the roadway. Previous research sponsored by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety provided a comprehensive assessment of the cognitive, visual and temporal demands associated with different tasks, modes of interaction, in-vehicle infotainment systems and vehicles. However, many of these studies examined young drivers; it is less well-understood how older drivers react to and perform with new IVIS technologies.
As part of the Center for Driving Safety and Technology, researchers at the University of Utah carried out a study for AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety to address the following questions:
With respect to different types of tasks (calling or dialing, text messaging, programming music or programming navigation):
With respect to the mode of interaction (using a center stack display, center console, auditory/vocal commands):
With respect to the different vehicle makes and models:
Six vehicles from different manufacturers were tested in the current study (model year 2018). Each vehicle offered two modes of interaction, including auditory/vocal commands and either a center stack display or center console controls. Four types of tasks were evaluated using the different systems and modes of interaction, including (a) selecting or programming music, (b) calling and dialing, (c) text messaging, and (d) programming a destination in the navigation system.
Participants included 128 licensed drivers who had normal or corrected-to-normal vision and a clean driving history. Drivers were divided into two age groups: younger drivers between 21-36 years of age (M = 24.8 yrs), and older drivers between 55-75 years of age (M = 65.8 yrs). A total of 24 drivers from each age group were tested in each vehicle in the study (48 total per vehicle), and the majority of drivers were tested on multiple vehicles on separate occasions.
Testing and evaluation took place on a 2-mile stretch of residential road with a posted speed limit of 25 mph and generally low traffic patterns. A study investigator was present in the passenger seat during the entire session for safety monitoring and data collection. After familiarization with the road, the vehicle, the systems, the tasks and the modes of interaction, testing commenced. Participants were instructed to drive the designated route from one end to another, repeating the assigned tasks several times on each drive.
Drivers also completed three benchmark trials. The first was a single-task baseline condition, where participants drove without performing any IVIS tasks. The second was a highly demanding cognitive task that has been used in many previous laboratory and on-road studies. The third was a highly demanding visual task — also used in many previous studies — that was presented on an in-vehicle display.
A number of objective and subjective measures were gathered both during and after each drive, in order to assess the visual and cognitive demands of the tasks as well as the task completion time, including two variants of the Detection Response Task (DRT, International Organization for Standardization No. 17488) as well as the NASA Task Load Index.
Cooper, J.M., Wheatley, C.L., McCarty, M.M., Motzkus, C.J., Lopes, C.L., Erickson, G.G., Baucom, B.R.W., & Strayer, D.L. (2019). Age-Related Differences in the Cognitive, Visual and Temporal Demands of In-Vehicle Information Systems (Technical Report). Washington, DC: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.