Driven to Distraction: An overview of the 100-car naturalistic driving study and findings

  • Published: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2005
  • Authors: V. L. Neale, T.A. Dingus, S. G. Klauer, J. Sudweeks and M. Goodman
  • Date Added: 07 Feb 2013
  • Last Update: 07 Feb 2013
  • Format: pdf


Findings from an experiment designed to assess the effects of roadside advertising on driver attention and performance in different road types.


The report presents the findings from a simulator study quantifying the effects of billboards on driver attention, mental workload and performance in Urban, Motorway and Rural environments. The study used the Brunel University Driving Simulator (BUDS) to conduct a rigorous test in a safe, controlled environment.

Key Findings:

  • There is growing concern that roadside advertising presents a real risk to driving safety, with conservative estimates putting external distractors responsible for up to 10 per cent of all RTIs.

  • The results demonstrate that roadside advertising has a clear detrimental effect on lateral control, increases mental workload and eye fixations, and on some roads can draw attention away from more relevant road signage.

  • There is evidence that drivers’ visual attention is often attracted by adverts or other irrelevant objects, and if this should occur when the driver’s visual workload is already high (such as at a complex junction or on a busy motorway), the driver could fail to detect more relevant signage, hazards, or potentially lose proper control of their vehicle.

  • Whilst the risk of roadside advertisements on driver attention is not nearly as great as that from in-car distractions, evidence is mounting that roadside distractions (and advertising in particular) present a ‘small but significant’ risk to driving safety.


Distraction, safety, RTIs, advertising signs


Robust US government document based on laboratory experiments. Focus on advertising signs.