The influence of drinking, texting and eating on simulated driving performance
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Objective: Driving is a complex task and distractions such as using a mobile phone for the purpose of text messaging are known to have a significant impact on driving. Eating and drinking are common forms of distraction that have received less attention in relation to their impact on driving. The aim of this study was to further explore and compare the effects of a variety of distraction tasks (i.e., text messaging, eating, drinking) on simulated driving. Methods: Twenty-eight healthy individuals (13 female) participated in a crossover design study involving 3 experimental trials (separated by ≥24 h). In each trial, participants completed a baseline driving task (no distraction) before completing a second driving task involving one of 3 different distraction tasks (drinking 400 mL water, drinking 400 mL water and eating a 6-inch Subway sandwich, drinking 400 mL water and composing 3 text messages). Primary outcome measures of driving consisted of standard deviation of lateral position (SDLP) and reaction time to auditory and visual critical events. Subjective ratings of difficulty in performing the driving tasks were also collected at the end of the study to determine perceptions of distraction difficulty on driving. Results: Driving tasks involving texting and eating were associated with significant impairment in driving performance measures for SDLP compared to baseline driving (46.0 ± 0.08 vs. 41.3 ± 0.06 cm and 44.8 ± 0.10 vs. 41.6 ± 0.07 cm, respectively), number of lane departures compared to baseline driving (10.9 ± 7.8 vs. 7.6 ± 7.1 and 9.4 ± 7.5 vs. 7.1 ± 7.0, respectively), and auditory reaction time compared to baseline driving (922 ± 95 vs. 889 ± 104 ms and 933 ± 101 vs. 901 ± 103 ms, respectively). No difference in SDLP (42.7 ± 0.08 vs. 42.5 ± 0.07 cm), number of lane departures (7.6 ± 7.7 vs. 7.0 ± 6.8), or auditory reaction time (891 ± 98 and 885 ± 89 ms) was observed in the drive involving the drink-only condition compared to the corresponding baseline drive. No difference in reaction time to visual stimuli was observed between baseline and experimental drives for any of the trial conditions. Participants’ subjective ratings indicated that they perceived the texting while driving condition to be the most difficult despite similar magnitudes of impairment observed with the eating while driving condition. Conclusions: Distracting behaviors such as eating and texting while driving appear to negatively impact driving measures of lane position control and reaction time. These findings may have direct implications for motorists that engage in these types of distracting behaviors behind the wheel and for the safety of other road users.
Traffic Injury Prevention
© 2014 Taylor & Francis. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Traffic Injury Prevention on 15 Oct 2014, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15389588.2014.920953
Clinical and Sports Nutrition