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An Examination of the Effects of Videophones on Driving and Conversation Performance

Research has conclusively shown that cell phones have a detrimental effect on driving performance. In an attempt to understand why, a handful of researchers have investigated the differences between cell phone and passenger conversations, with several of these studies revealing that the distraction caused by concurrent cell phone conversations noticeably outweighs that imposed by passenger conversations. One study suggested that the availability of visual cues during a passenger conversation may be an important factor contributing to this reduced level of distraction. The focus of this research project was to test whether providing drivers and remote conversers with access to visual cues via a videophone would result in improved driving performance when compared to a concurrent cell phone conversation. An initial experiment, in which 24 drivers encountered five hazards on a simulated road while conversing with a passenger, cell phone caller, videophone caller, or driving without conversation, resulted in driving behaviour that did not appear to be an accurate representation of real-world driving behaviour, which resulted in the early termination of this experiment. A second revised experiment, in which novice and practiced drivers drove a shortened version of the simulated road once under each of the aforementioned conversation conditions, produced more normal behaviour but failed to reveal any significant differences in driving or conversation performance as a result of concurrent videophone conversation compared to cell phone conversation. However, the results did reveal a number of other findings that may aid in understanding the distracting effects of cell phones, one of which was that remote conversations may result in an overestimation or underestimation of the correct driving response depending on the nature of the driving situation.
Type of thesis
Mackenzie, K. J. (2011). An Examination of the Effects of Videophones on Driving and Conversation Performance (Thesis, Master of Arts (MA)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5958
University of Waikato
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