Investigating the Roles of Touchscreen and Physical Control Interface Characteristics on Driver Distraction and Multitasking Performance Grant uri icon


  • In-vehicle technologies are increasingly designed with touchscreen interface controls, replacing physical buttons/knobs. This has implications for the nature of attention orientation when interacting with common controls, often requiring a larger degree of visual feedback to substitute for the lack of haptic feedback. As a result, visual attention is diverted away from the roadway to a greater extent when interacting with these technologies, which may affect driving safety and performance. Synthetic feedback (auditory or vibrotactile cues such as "clicks") may reduce the need for extended visual reorientation. Not much is known from existing research about the extent to which physical controls and touchscreens with various types of synthetic feedback affect one's visual awareness of surroundings, and consequently, driving safety and performance. This study will investigate both a handheld (smartphone) and dashboard-mounted interface under various feedback conditions to determine the quality of interaction and also the effects on a real-world driving task. To this end, a Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) fleet vehicle will be used on a closed course track at the Texas A&M Riverside campus, and study participants will be tasked with safely navigating the prescribed course while conducting a secondary task on a smartphone and dashboard touchscreen. Proper safety precautions will be taken to ensure minimal risk to the driver, and the study team will seek approval from the Texas A&M University (TAMU) Institutional Review Board prior to commencing the study. Driver performance measures such as speed and lane position will be collected, as well as measures related to performance on the interaction task, eyetracking, and a "visual awareness" task which will require visual recognition of and verbal acknowledgment of various targets of interest, such as colored cones placed next to buildings. The findings from the study will be informative to the designers of in-vehicle technologies which require manual driver interaction, such as global positioning systems (GPS), and will also be informative for the design of handheld technologies meant to be interacted with while multitasking.

date/time interval

  • 2015 - 2016