Understanding driver self-regulating behavior: how does phone use influence vehicle control in real world?
Conference contribution, 2013
In the last few years, research on driver distraction focused on assessing the extent to which using
mobile phones is compatible with safe driving. Many studies employing driving simulators suggested
that using a phone while driving is definitely unsafe. Nevertheless, so far, naturalistic studies, as well
as aggregate crash statistics, did not match these results, keeping open the debate, and promising
guidelines for new countermeasures to distraction alternative to bans and based on understanding
driver behavior in the real world.
Naturalistic data collected from 108 drivers in the Integrated Vehicle-Based Safety Systems (IVBSS)
program in 2009 and 2010 was employed to determine how drivers change their vehicle control
when engaging in a conversation on, or manipulation of, a phone. Drivers were also divided into
three age groups 20-30 (young), 40-50 (middle-age), and 60-70 (older) to determine the possible
interaction between age and phone use while driving on vehicle control.
Using a phone for calling affected lateral control differently than manipulating a phone (as while
dialing or texting). However, no difference was found for longitudinal control. Young drivers used a
phone while driving more often than older and middle-age drivers. In addition, young drivers
exhibited smaller safety margins while using a phone as well as faster reactions. Finally, the results
suggest that drivers tend to interrupt phone interactions when the driving context becomes more
In conclusion, this study suggests that driver self-regulating behavior is the key to assess the net
safety effect of using a phone while driving. Consequently, countermeasures able to support the
drivers’ inherent self-regulating behavior may be a more successful, and more widely adopted
solutions, than phone bans toward addressing the potential for distraction posed by phones while