Thursday, July 15, 2010

EXPERIMENTAL REPORT: Driver stress and performance on a driving simulator

TITLE: Driver stress and performance on a driving simulator
AUTHOR: Matthews, G., Dorn, L., Hoyes, T.W., Davies, D.R., Glendon, A.I., Taylor, R.G.
JOURNAL: Hum Factors. 1998 Mar;40(1):136-49.
ABSTRACT:  "Effects of stress on driving performance can depend on the nature of driver's stress reactions and on the traffic environment. In an experimental study, we assessed multiple dimensions of vulnerability to driver stress by a questionnaire that was validated in previous field studies and related those dimensions to performance on a driving simulator. Results were broadly consistent with prediction. A dimension of habitual dislike of driving was associated with reduced control skills, greater caution, and disturbance of moods. A measure of aggressive driving predicted more frequent and more error-prone overtaking, which are effects attributed to the use of confrontive coping strategies in interaction with other vehicles. An alertness measure predicted speed of reaction to pedestrian hazards. This research has practical applications for system design, automated monitoring of driver performance, selection and assessment of drivers, and training."
MY TAKE ON IT: One thing that seems to be missing for discussion of driving phobia is the extent to which it is not purely irrational.  This study shows that dislike of driving was associated with having poorer driving control skills making more frequent driving errors, caution when driving and stress. The suggestion is that stressed drivers might not have any more accidents, but this may be not because they have normal skill levels, but because the avoid taking risks.

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