Refining distraction potential testing guidelines by considering differences in glancing behavior
Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
Driver distraction is a recognized cause of traffic accidents. Although the well-known guidelines for measuring distraction of secondary in-car tasks were published by the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2013, studies have raised concerns on the accuracy of the method defined in the guidelines, namely criticizing them for basing the diversity of the driver sample on driver age, and for inconsistent between-group results. In fact, it was recently
... recently discovered that the NHTSA driving simulator test is susceptible to rather fortuitous results when the participant sample is randomized. This suggests that the results of said test are highly dependent on the selected participants, rather than on the phenomenon being studied, for example, the effects of touch screen size on driver distraction. As an attempt to refine the current guidelines, we set out to study whether a previously proposed new testing method is as susceptible to the effects of participant randomization as the NHTSA method. This new testing method differs from the NHTSA method by two major accounts. First, the new method considers occlusion distance (i.e., how far a driver can drive with their vision covered) rather than age, and second, the new method considers driving in a more complex, and arguably, a more realistic environment than proposed in the NHTSA guidelines. Our results imply that the new method is less susceptible to sample randomization, and that occlusion distance appears a more robust criterion for driver sampling than merely driver age. Our results are applicable in further developing driver distraction guidelines and provide empirical evidence on the effect of individual differences in drivers' glancing behavior.