Mobile phone use while operating a conditional automated vehicle: The effects on young drivers' takeback control

Mobile phone use while operating a conditional automated vehicle

Conditional (Level 3) Automated Vehicles (AVs) are expected to be available to the public within the next few years and refer to vehicles where all critical functions of the vehicle are automated, however, the driver must be in the position to take back control of the vehicle when the vehicle indicates as such. The purpose of this research is to examine young drivers’ (aged 17-25 years) take-back control of a Conditional AV while drivers are engaged in one of three difference communication tasks using their smartphone (i.e., reading and sending text messages, answering a phone call, or using social media; distraction condition 1), completing a working memory task (i.e., n-back count task; distraction condition 2), or monitoring the road conditions (no distraction task, control condition). The experiment will be conducted using the CARRS-Q Advanced Driving Simulator.

Research Findings

The research examined the extent to which using a hand-held mobile phone affected young drivers (N = 33; aged 17-25 years, 17 females) takeback control of a simulated conditional automated vehicle (AV). The study also applied the Theory of Planned Behaviour to assess if there were any differences in intentions to use AVs pre-and post-drive. The findings revealed that there were no significant differences in takeback control of the vehicle when participants were using a hand-held mobile phone to read and send text messages, talk on the phone, or use social media when compared to completing a working memory n-back task or monitoring the road environment. The findings also revealed that participants reported significantly higher ratings that important others would approve of them using a conditional AV and greater control over whether or not they would intend to use an AV in the future post-drive compared to pre-drive. These findings suggest that using a hand-held mobile phone does not negatively influence young drivers takeback control of an AV. However, it is important to note that more research is required to further understand the effects of mobile phone use on takeback control of AVs in real world environments. The findings also highlight the influence that important others may have in determining whether young drivers intend to use AVs in the future.

Funding / Grants

  • IHBI Early Career Research Grant (2019)