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Does attention capacity moderate the effect of driver distraction in older drivers?

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

With age, a decline in attention capacity may occur and this may impact driving performance especially while distracted. Although the effect of distraction on driving performance of older drivers has been investigated, the moderating effect of attention capacity on driving performance during distraction has not been investigated yet. Therefore, the aim was to investigate whether attention capacity has a moderating effect on older drivers’ driving performance during visual distraction (experiment 1) and cognitive distraction (experiment 2). In a fixed-based driving simulator, older drivers completed a driving task without and with visual distraction (experiment 1, N = 17, mean age 78 years) or cognitive distraction (experiment 2, N = 35, mean age 76 years). Several specific driving measures of varying complexity (i.e., speed, lane keeping, following distance, braking behavior, and crashes) were investigated. In addition to these objective driving measures, subjective measures of workload and driving performance were also included. In experiment 1, crash occurrence increased with visual distraction and was negatively related to attention capacity. In experiment 2, complete stops at stop signs decreased, initiation of braking at pedestrian crossings was later, and crash occurrence increased with cognitive distraction. Interestingly, for a measure of lane keeping (i.e., standard deviation of lateral lane position (SDLP)), effects of both types of distraction were moderated by attention capacity. Despite the decrease of driving performance with distraction, participants estimated their driving performance during distraction as good. These results imply that attention capacity is important for driving. Driver assessment and training programs might therefore focus on attention capacity. Nonetheless, it is crucial to eliminate driver distraction as much as possible given the deterioration of performance on several driving measures in those with low and high attention capacity.
Tijdschrift: ACCIDENT ANALYSIS AND PREVENTION
Volume: 77
Pagina's: 12 - 20
Jaar van publicatie:2015
Trefwoorden:older drivers, distraction, attention, driving simulator