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The effects of text messaging on young novice driver performance.

Hosking, S, Young, K, Regan, M, Faulks, I J, Stevenson, M, Brown, J, Porter, A, Irwin, J D

Driver Risk & Behaviour

ACRS conference 2005

The current project aimed to evaluate, using the advanced driving simulator located at the Monash University Accident Research Centre, the effects of text (SMS) messaging on the driving performance of young novice drivers. Twenty participants drove on a simulated roadway which contained a number of events, including a pedestrian emerging from behind parked cars, traffic lights, cars turning right in front of the driver, a car following episode and a lane change task. The results revealed that retrieving and, in particular, sending text messages had a detrimental effect on a number of safety critical driving measures. When text messaging, drivers’ ability to maintain their lateral position on the road and to detect and respond appropriately to traffic signs was significantly reduced. In addition, drivers spent up to 400 percent more time with their eyes off the road when text messaging, than when not text messaging. While there was some evidence that drivers attempted to compensate for being distracted by increasing their following distance when following a lead vehicle, drivers did not reduce their speed while distracted. Failure to do so in the real world could increase their risk of being involved in a crash as it increases the stopping distance required to avoid a collision. The practical implications of these findings are discussed.