The use of auditory prompts to direct drivers' attention to an in-vehicle visual display in a dual-task simulated commercial truck environment

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Virginia Tech

A simulated driving experiment was conducted to assess the potential benefits of using an auditory prompt to assist in target acquisition of in-vehicle navigational information, presented as a secondary task in commercial truck cab noise. Dual-task (driving in addition to performing a secondary task) and secondary task scenarios were presented, and acquisition time and accuracy on the secondary task were measured under three prompt types, three levels of information density, and three noise types. A subjective workload rating was also obtained from participants following each unique treatment condition. Accuracy was significantly higher for both auditory prompt types as compared to visual prompts under the dual-task configuration, but not significantly different under the secondary task configuration, suggesting that the increased visual demand of the primary task affected performance during the visual-only trials, but not during the trials in which prompts were presented auditorially. Under all levels of information density in the secondary task scenarios, acquisition time was significantly faster for the trials during which information was presented using the auditory-directional prompt, compared with the auditory-diotic and visual trials, suggesting that the aural lateralization cues helped drivers locate information more quickly.

The techniques explored in the study have resulted in the benefit of presenting information more efficiently to a driver experiencing a high degree of visual workload. The potential exists to expand upon these findings, toward the goal of improving information display techniques which minimize the inherent visual burden with which many commercial truck drivers must contend.