CONTACT: GARY GALLUZZO
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0009; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Oct. 28, 2002
NADS awarded $1.5 million for driver distraction, wireless phone research
National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) at the University of Iowa has received
a total of more than $1.5 million from the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA) to conduct two projects on driver distraction and the
use of wireless phones.
The first project is a $738,450 study of how different wireless phone interfaces
-- such as hands-on (manual) dialing, hands-free with manual dialing, and
hands-free with voice dialing -- affect driving behavior under different levels
of driving demand. Conventional wisdom holds that hands-free interfaces create
less distraction. However, UI researchers say that there is little or no scientific
research to document it. The UI study will directly compare interface types
and provide invaluable information on their effects, especially under different
driving demands, including dense traffic and busy arterial roads.
The second project is an $813,986 study of how distraction caused by wireless
phone usage varies based on the actual content, length, and intensity of the
phone call. In addition, the study will investigate how cell phone usage experience
affects distraction and driver performance. The two projects will be conducted
in close cooperation with NHTSAs Vehicle Research and Test Center, located
in East Liberty, Ohio. NHTSAs principal investigators on the project
are Liz Mazzae of NHTSA and Tom Ranney of the Transportation Research Center.
"These are very complex studies utilizing a lot of the unique NADS
capabilities, especially in developing the necessary immersive driving situation
necessary to differentiate driver performance between the various wireless
interface types, says Yiannis Papelis, UIs principal investigator
for the two studies. "Part of the challenge in these studies is the meaningful
quantification of driver performance."
To help chart driver performance, the projects include funding for a state-of-the-art
eye tracker that will unobtrusively provide detailed information on where
drivers look while driving. Papelis says that the information will be key
in evaluating distraction caused by wireless phone usage and the safety implications
under varying conditions.
Ginger Watson, UIs co-principal investigator, says, We hope that
in-depth simulator studies like this one will help safety professionals and
the public at-large to understand how driving performance changes with the
use of different wireless interfaces and with different types of conversation
in the driving environment.
Frequent users of wireless phones who would like to participate in the studies
are asked to call (319) 335-4719. Data collection for the first study is scheduled
to begin in October, with the second study to follow. Participants may be
required to use wireless phones in simulated heavy traffic or other situations
that would create unacceptable risk if performed on real roadways.
The NADS is the largest and most sophisticated research-oriented driving
simulator in the world. It was built to conduct research that will ultimately
lead to reductions in the number of traffic-related deaths, injuries, and
incidents of property loss on the nations highways. The NADS, located
at the University of Iowas Oakdale Research Park, is a national shared-use
facility owned by the NHTSA of the Department of Transportation and operated
by the University of Iowa.