Driving Performance During Concurrent Cell-Phone Use: Are Drivers Aware of Their Performance Decrements?

Lesch, M.F., & Hancock, P.A. (2004). Driving performance during concurrent cell-phone use: Are drivers aware of their performance decrements? Accident Analysis and Prevention36(3), 471-480.

Many studies have documented the performance decrements associated with driver distractions; however, few have examined drivers’ awareness of these distraction effects. The current study measured how well-calibrated drivers are with respect to performance decrements from distracting tasks. In this test track study, 40 younger and older drivers completed a series of tasks on a hand-held or hands-free cell phone while driving around a course in an instrumented vehicle. Subjective estimates of performance decrements were compared to actual performance decrements. Although their driving performance suffered in dual-task conditions, drivers were generally not well-calibrated to the magnitude of the distraction effects (r =−.38 to .16). In some cases, estimates of distraction were opposite of the observed effects (i.e., smaller estimates of distraction corresponded to larger performance deficits). Errors in calibration were unassociated with several measures of overconfidence in safety and skill, among other variables. We discuss the implications of these findings for potential mitigation strategies for distracted driving.

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