|M.Sc Student||Zatmeh Sunbola|
|Subject||The Effect of Distraction on Driving Behavior|
|Department||Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering||Supervisor||Professor Tomer Toledo|
|Full Thesis text|
Engagement in distracting activities is among the leading causes of car crashes. In recent years, there has been a rapid increase in the availability of Smartphone and other connected and infotainment devices, also within the vehicle, and in their widespread use even when driving. This trend exacerbates their potential negative effects on driving. Thus, an understanding of the impact of distraction on driver behavior is essential in order to support the development of effective technology and policy solutions to mitigate its potential risk.
This study uses a simple car-following scenario within a driving simulator to study drivers’ performance while undertaking several distracting activities. Thus, the research question for this work is about the impact of these activities on the driving performance. 101 participants completed a simulator experiment in which they drove 4 scenarios while being engaged in different distracting activities: cell phone use, texting, eating and a control scenario with no distracting activity. The participants also completed a survey on driver personality, socio-demographic and driver performance. Data on the longitudinal and lateral movements of the vehicles were recorded in the experiment.
Analysis of this data shows significant differences in the driving performance measures among the different distracting activities. In particular, texting had the largest negative effect on driving performance. It was found that it increases the variability in the driving speed and lateral deviations and also increases the distance gaps from the vehicle in front. These indicate a lower ability to control the vehicle. Similar but milder effects were also found for the two other distracting activities.