Reply to Comments on ‘The Effects of In-Vehicle Distraction on Driver Response During a Crucial Driving Maneuver'


Hancock, P.A., & Ranney, T. (1999). Reply to comments on ‘The effects of in-vehicle distraction on driver response during a crucial driving maneuver. Transportation Human Factors, 1, 313-316.

In the commentary of our work (Hancock, Simmons, Hashemi, Howarth, & Ranney, 1999), Tijerina (1999) exhibits a characteristic acumen though his identification of the two most controversial aspects of our argument, and it is to the these observations we wish briefly to respond. However, in passing, he refers to our choice of tasks and this is worth at least some response. As we all, collectively, struggle to evaluate the impact of innovative in-vehicle technologies on driver performance, we are faced with the common problem of a moving target. What is cutting edge technology one month is passé the next. In our work, we chose tasks that held at least a surface similarity to issues of particular present concern, that is, in-vehicle cellular phone operation (see Goodman, Tijerina, Bents, & Wierwille, 1999), but also selected tasks with an eye to the underlying processing demands that are likely to be required of the future driver. We agree with Kantowitz (1989) that a good theory may be the researcher’s best tool and thus, although our choice of task may not have the highest contemporary face validity, they do relate to underlying psychological theory. Consequently, we are hopeful that the data will prove more generally useful in the long run. However, the choice of specific tasks is a minor concern in comparison to the major issues to which we now turn.

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