Does phone interface type influence the distracting effects of text messaging in tunnels?

Kristie Lee Young, Christina Rudin-Brown, Christopher Patten, Ruggero Ceci, Michael Graeme Lenne

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There is clear evidence that text messaging while driving is distracting and can significantly increase the risk of being involved in a collision. However, very little is known about how the type of phone interface might moderate the distracting effects of text messaging. In addition, compared to highway driving, driving in tunnels introduces additional issues such as monotony, fatigue, and more severe consequences of crashing, all of which may serve to exacerbate the effects of distracting activities on driving performance and safety. This study assessed the effect of using a touch screen keyboard versus numeric keypad phone to send and receive text messages on simulated driving performance and eye glance behaviour in a tunnel environment. Twenty-four drivers aged 25 to 55 years (M=33.4, SD=9.9) drove a 14km route in the MUARC advanced driving simulator. During the drives, participants read and sent text messages using their own mobile phones. Half of the participants used a phone with a numeric keypad, while the other half used phones with a touch screen keyboard interface. Results revealed that, regardless of phone interface type, reading and sending text messages while driving in a tunnel significantly impairs driving performance, eye glance behaviour, and subjective workload measures. There was also evidence that phone interface might moderate the impact of text messaging on some aspects of driver behaviour; although, contrary to expectation, numerical keypad phones appeared to have a more deleterious effect on driver behaviour than touch screen keyboard phones. It was concluded that the relatively larger, higher resolution screens and more familiar keyboard layout of touch screen phones may offset their lack of tactile feedback.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Driver Distraction and Inattention
EditorsMichael Regan, Trent Victor
Place of PublicationSweden
PublisherChalmers University of Technology
Pages1 - 16
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventInternational Conference on Driver Distraction and Inattention (DDI 2013) - Lindholmen Science Park, Gothenberg, Sweden
Duration: 4 Sep 20136 Sep 2013
Conference number: 3rd


ConferenceInternational Conference on Driver Distraction and Inattention (DDI 2013)
Abbreviated titleDDI 2013
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