Understanding the distracted brain

  • Zhao N
  • Reimer B
  • Mehler B
 et al. 
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Abstract

Text messaging while driving is considered dangerous and known to produce injuries and fatalities. However, the effects of text messaging on driving performance have not been synthesized or summarily estimated. All available experimental studies that measured the effects of text messaging on driving were identified through database searches using variants of "driving" and "texting" without restriction on year of publication through March 2014. Of the 1476 abstracts reviewed, 82 met general inclusion criteria. Of these, 28 studies were found to sufficiently compare reading or typing text messages while driving with a control or baseline condition. Independent variables (text-messaging tasks) were coded as typing, reading, or a combination of both. Dependent variables included eye movements, stimulus detection, reaction time, collisions, lane positioning, speed and headway. Statistics were extracted from studies to compute effect sizes (rc). A total sample of 977 participants from 28 experimental studies yielded 234 effect size estimates of the relationships among independent and dependent variables. Typing and reading text messages while driving adversely affected eye movements, stimulus detection, reaction time, collisions, lane positioning, speed and headway. Typing text messages alone produced similar decrements as typing and reading, whereas reading alone had smaller decrements over fewer dependent variables. Typing and reading text messages affects drivers' capability to adequately direct attention to the roadway, respond to important traffic events, control a vehicle within a lane and maintain speed and headway. This meta-analysis provides convergent evidence that texting compromises the safety of the driver, passengers and other road users. Combined efforts, including legislation, enforcement, blocking technologies, parent modeling, social media, social norms and education, will be required to prevent continued deaths and injuries from texting and driving. © 2014 The Authors.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Accident risk
  • Age
  • Car following
  • Cell phone
  • Cellphone
  • Descriptive norm
  • Driver distraction
  • Driving
  • Driving behavior questionnaire (DBQ)
  • Driving performance
  • Gender
  • Initiating behaviour
  • Meta-analysis
  • Mobile (cell) phones
  • Mobile phone
  • Public health
  • Research synthesis
  • Responding behaviour
  • Speech-based interaction
  • Text messaging
  • Texting
  • Texting and driving
  • Theory of planned behaviour
  • Touch screen
  • Traffic safety

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Authors

  • Nan Zhao

  • Bryan Reimer

  • Bruce Mehler

  • Lisa a. D'Ambrosio

  • Joseph F. Coughlin

  • Kristie L. Young

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