Results studying teenage drivers show that they are more susceptible to in-car distractions than adults. Due greatly to their driving inexperience, teenage participants were found to choose small following distances, leaving less room for error. They performed the same tasks as the adults with a greater occurrence of error; some to a drastic extent. The lane violation rate for the hand-held voice mail task was 56 percent higher for teens than adults. Similarly, teens missed 53.8 percent of the events occurring in front of them when dialing a hand-held phone.
With such overwhelming results, it appears that many teens give the dialing task equal or higher priority than scanning the driving scene. The results indicate a serious cause for concern, according to Greenberg. "Cellular phones, pagers, and other devices are popular among teens. The results of the study, at a minimum, indicate that driver education curricula should be revised to address the use of communication technology while driving."
While driver's education may become more advanced, Greenberg also believes vehicles will become more intelligent. "There's never a good time to answer your cellular phone while driving. I see a future with vehicle systems intelligent enough to gauge traffic and manage your workload. Incoming calls could be sent directly to voice mail if the vehicle sensed high-stress surroundings. Deferring to voice mail might get around the distraction problem."
Ford's VIRTTEX is one of the most advanced laboratories of its kind in the world. Since 2000, Ford Motor Company has used the controlled laboratory setting to study everyday driving tasks and how they affect driver performance during a variety of simulated driving experiences.
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