Driver distraction: the effects of concurrent in-vehicle tasks, road environment complexity and age on driving performance

  • Published: Accident Analysis & Prevention, 38(1), 2006
  • Authors: Horberry, T., Anderson, J., Regan, M. A., Triggs, T. J., & Brown, J.
  • Date Added: 28 Mar 2015
  • Last Update: 28 Mar 2015
  • Format: html


This paper presents the findings of a simulator study that examined the effects of distraction upon driving performance for drivers in three age groups.


There were two in-vehicle distracter tasks: operating the vehicle entertainment system and conducting a simulated hands-free mobile phone conversation. The effect of visual clutter was examined by requiring participants to drive in simple and complex road environments.

Thirty one participants were employed, and each person was tested individually. Of these, 10 were younger drivers (aged under 25 years, mean age 21 years), 11 were mid-age drivers (aged 30–45, mean age 37 years) and 10 were older drivers (aged 60–75 years, mean age 66 years).

Key Findings:

  • Overall measures of driving performance were collected, together with responses to roadway hazards and subjective measures of driver perceived workload.

  • The two in-vehicle distraction tasks degraded overall driving performance, degraded responses to hazards and increased subjective workload.

  • The performance decrements that occurred as a result of in-vehicle distraction were observed in both the simple and complex highway environments and for drivers in different age groups.

  • One key difference was that older drivers traveled at lower mean speeds in the complex highway environment compared with younger drivers.