Drivers' Visual Behavior When Using Hand-Held and Hands-Free Cell Phones
Fitch, Gregory M.
Hanowski, Richard J.
Perez, M. P.
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This study investigated driver distraction and how the use of handheld (HH), portable hands-free (PHF), and integrated hands-free (IHF) cell phones affected the visual behavior of motor vehicle drivers. Method A naturalistic driving study recorded 204 participating drivers using video cameras and vehicle sensors for an average of 31 days. A total of 1564 cell phone calls made and 844 text messages sent while driving were sampled and underwent a video review. Baselines were established by recording epochs prior to the cell phone interactions. Total eyes-off-road time (TEORT) was examined to assess the visual demands of cell phone subtasks while driving. Percent TEORT was reported and compared against the baseline. Results Visual-manual subtasks performed on HH, PHF, and IHF cell phones were found to significantly increase drivers' mean percent TEORT. In contrast, conversing on an HH cell phone was found to significantly decrease drivers' mean percent TEORT, indicating that drivers looked at the forward roadway more often. No significant differences in percent TEORT were found for drivers conversing using PHF or IHF cell phones. The mean TEORT durations for visual-manual subtasks performed on an HH cell phone were significantly longer than the mean TEORT durations on either IHF or PHF cell phones. Practical applications This research helps to further reinforce the distinction made between handheld and hands-free cell phone use in transportation distraction policy.