Recent studies have explored a promising method to measure driver workload-the Peripheral Detection Task (PDT). The PDT has been suggested as a standard method to assess safety-relevant workload from the use of in-vehicle information systems (IVIS) while driving. This paper reports the German part of a Swedish-German cooperative study in which the PDT was investigated focusing on its specific sensitivity compared with alternative workload measures. Forty-nine professional drivers performed the PDT while following route guidance system instructions on an inner-city route. The route consisted of both highly demanding and less demanding sections. Two route guidance systems that differed mainly in display size and display organization were compared. Subjective workload ratings (NASA-TLX) as well as physiological measures (heart rate and heart rate variability) were collected as reference data. The PDT showed sensitivity to route demands. Despite their differing displays, both route guidance systems affected PDT performance similarly in intervals of several minutes. However, the PDT proved sensitive to peaks in workload from IVIS use and from the driving task. Peaks in workload were studied by video analyses of four selected subsections on the route. Subjective workload ratings reflected overall route demands and also did not indicate differing effects of the two displays. The physiological measures were less sensitive to workload and indicated emotional strain as well. An assessment of the PDT as a method for the measurement of safety-related workload is given. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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