What contextual and demographic factors predict drivers’ decision to engage in secondary tasks?

Kristie L. Young, Rachel Osborne, Sjaan Koppel, Judith L. Charlton, Raphael Grzebieta, Ann Williamson, Narelle Haworth, Jeremy Woolley, Teresa Senserrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This study used data from the Australian Naturalistic Driving Study to study driver engagement in secondary tasks during every day driving and examine the role that various driver characteristics and driving context variables play in influencing the initiation of secondary tasks. Video from 186 randomly selected trips were viewed to identify a range of secondary tasks and to classify contextual variables at the point of task initiation (e.g. vehicle motion, weather, and light conditions). Results revealed that secondary task engagement when driving is highly prevalent, with drivers spending ∼45% of their driving time engaging in potentially distracting tasks. The results also showed that drivers make a number of strategic decisions regarding when to engage, such as waiting until the vehicle is stationary; however, they do not appear to consider some contextual factors that may impact risks, such as weather and light conditions. The findings will be useful in targeting distraction countermeasures and policies and determining the effectiveness of these in reducing driver distraction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1218-1223
Number of pages6
JournalIET Intelligent Transport Systems
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • driver distraction
  • contextual factors
  • demographic factors
  • secondary tasks
  • Australian Naturalistic Driving Study
  • day driving
  • driver characteristics
  • driving context variables
  • task initiation
  • secondary task engagement
  • driving time
  • potentially distracting tasks
  • driver engagement

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