[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We newly propose that the vigilance decrement occurs because the cognitive control system fails to maintain active the goal of the vigilance task over prolonged periods of time (goal habituation). Further, we hypothesized that momentarily deactivating this goal (via a switch in tasks) would prevent the activation level of the vigilance goal from ever habituating. We asked observers to perform a visual vigilance task while maintaining digits in-memory. When observers retrieved the digits at the end of the vigilance task, their vigilance performance steeply declined over time. However, when observers were asked to sporadically recollect the digits during the vigilance task, the vigilance decrement was averted. Our results present a direct challenge to the pervasive view that vigilance decrements are due to a depletion of attentional resources and provide a tractable mechanism to prevent this insidious phenomenon in everyday life.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The impact of cell (mobile) phone use on driving performance has been widely questioned for 20 years. This paper reviews the literature to evaluate the extent to which phoning may impact behaviour with a risk to affect safety. After analysing epidemiological studies that give an overview of cell phone use, this paper examines the experimental results and focuses on variables showing that driving is impacted by holding a mobile-phone conversation. Information processing (e.g. reaction time and detection rate of cues related to driving information) and variables associated with vehicle control (e.g. lane-keeping, headway and vehicle speed) seem the most relevant. Although less studied than behavioural indices, physiological data give information about the supplementary potential strain that the driver may undergo under dual-task conditions. This first part of the review highlights common findings, questionable results and differences among studies, which originate from specific experimental designs with particular dependent variables, i.e. self-report, behavioural and physiological indicators. Finally, how drivers try to compensate for the additional load brought by phone use is described. STATEMENT OF RELEVANCE: The two papers review the influence of mobile-phone use on driving performance. While there is ample evidence that this dual task is likely to increase the risk of car crash, the review analyses the variables eliciting detrimental conditions and, conversely, those that may preserve acceptable conditions for safety, close to usual driving. The decision of answering or initiating a cell phone call while driving depends upon the complex interaction among several variables, including driving conditions and driver's own characteristics. In addition, this decision remains under driver's awareness of being able or not to manage the two tasks simultaneously.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The first paper examined how the variables related to driving performance were impacted by the management of holding a phone conversation. However, the conditions under which this dual task is carried out are dependent upon a set of factors that may particularly influence the risk of crash. These conditions are defined by several independent variables, classified into five main categories: i) legislation; ii) phone type (hands-free or hand-held); iii) drivers' features regarding age, gender, personal individual profile and driving experience; iv) conversation content (casual or professional) and its context (held with passengers or with a cell (mobile) phone); v) driving conditions (actual or simulated driving, road type, traffic density and weather). These independent variables determine the general conditions. The way in which these factors are combined and interact one with another thus determines the risk that drivers undergo when a cell phone is used while driving. Finally, this review defined the general conditions of driving for which managing a phone conversation is likely to elicit a high risk of car crash or, conversely, may provide a situation of lower risk, with sufficient acceptance to ensure safety.
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