Drivers' willingness to engage with their mobile phone: the influence of phone function and road demand

Drivers normally elect whether or not to engage with a secondary task while driving. This study aimed to determine whether drivers’ willingness to engage with their mobile phone is affected by demands from the roadway environment and if these effects are more pronounced for some phone functions compared with others. Fifteen video clips were played to 20 participants representing different road scenarios, and therefore demands, such as driving on an empty auto route or turning right on a main arterial road. The participants then used three point Likert scales to rate their willingness to place or answer a call and send or read a text and a five point scale to rate the perceived riskiness of placing and answering a call only. Participants were also asked to think aloud when making their judgements so further insight could be gained. It was found that willingness to engage was affected by both the perceived roadway demands and the phone function under consideration. The perceived riskiness also affected willingness to engage when placing a call only. The think aloud element indicated the participants’ reasoning behind these findings as well as identifying possible future areas of research.