The Effect of Multi-tasking on Self-Assessments of Driving Performance Center for the Prevention of Distracted Driving

Research from the Center for the Prevention of Distracted Driving at the University of Utah has demonstrated that cell phone use contributes to accidents, slower reactions, and more dangerous driving patterns. Further studies have shown that cell phone conversation disrupts visual scanning and change detection, and causes a form of inattention blindness whereby observers fail to see information that falls directly in their line of gaze. Although a great deal is known about the detrimental effects of cellular communication on driving, little is known about why people engage in this dangerous behavior. Drivers persist despite overwhelming evidence documenting the hazards associated with such use. Ironically, there is often wide spread support for regulating the use of wireless devices while driving, in many cases by individuals who regularly engage in these activities. People appear to be sensitive to the risks of others' cell phone use, but blind to the risks associated with their own use. The project hypothesizes that the cognitive distraction caused by the use of a cell phone impairs drivers' ability to notice their own impaired driving. That is, cell phone use may induce a form of inattention blindness that not only diminishes drivers' ability to detect important information in the driving environment but that also impairs their ability to self-regulate their driving performance. Drivers generally monitor their performance to ensure that they are driving safely. However, when they are distracted by the mechanics of using their phones and conversation, they may be less cognizant of the errors and mistakes they make on the road. Consequently, they may maintain the illusion they can drive safely while talking on the cell phone and continue to engage in this risky multi-tasking activity. Because their ability to monitor their driving is impaired, their performance assessments are likely to be guided by their beliefs and expectations rather than actual observations.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    University Transportation Centers Program
    1200 New Jersey Avenue
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Kline, Robin

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Utah

    Dept. of Psychology
    380 S 1530 E BEH S 502
    Salt Lake City, UT  United States  84112
  • Principal Investigators:

    Strayer, David

    Sanbonmatsu, David

  • Start Date: 20120101
  • Expected Completion Date: 20161231
  • Actual Completion Date: 20170411
  • Source Data: MPC-407

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01483225
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Mountain-Plains Consortium
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT12-G-UTC08
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Jun 6 2013 1:01AM