Memory for a hazard is interrupted by performance of a secondary in-vehicle task Conference Paper uri icon


  • Driver visual distraction is known to increase the likelihood of being involved in a crash, especially for long glances. Recent evidence further suggests that the detrimental impact of these glances carries over and disrupting the ongoing processing of information after the eyes return to the road. This study aimed at exploring the effect of different types of visual disruptions on the top-down processes that guide the detection and monitoring of road hazards. Using a driving simulator, 56 participants were monitored with an eye tracking system while they navigated various hazardous scenarios in one of four experimental conditions: (1) Visual interruptions comprised of spatial, driving unrelated, tasks; (2) visual interruptions comprised of non-spatial, driving unrelated, tasks; (3) visual interruptions with no tasks added; and (4) no visual interruptions. In the first three conditions drivers were momentarily interrupted (either with or without a task) prior to the hazard occurrence. The visual interruption was aimed to simulate a glance inside the vehicle either with or without the need to process driving irrelevant information. Results show that the various types of tasks had differential effects on hazard detection. Implications of this study are discussed.

publication date

  • January 1, 2014