Factors affecting drivers willingness to engage with a mobile phone while driving

2014-06-05T09:07:54Z (GMT) by Graham Hancox
This thesis investigates drivers willingness to engage with a mobile phone while driving. Many studies have looked into the effects on driving performance that can result from phone usage, but few studies have directly considered what can encourage or inhibit phone engagement behaviours in the first place. An initial exploratory study (Study 1) was conducted, for which a photo elicitation interview (N=20) was designed and implemented. This aimed to find the extent to which factors influencing phone use transferred from out of the car to the driving environment. In particular, the study aimed to explore whether the driving environment could be considered unique. The results indicated that the high demands placed on the driver by the road environment clearly distinguished it from the other environments and the reported propensity to use a phone seemed to reflect this. Only factors which either changed the level of attention required by the task, such as a change in task demand as a result of changes in the traffic environment, had any substantial influence on willingness to engage. Driving may not be unique in terms of the overall factors influencing phone use but it is unique in the extent to which this particular factor seems to have such a strong bearing on interaction. Building on findings from Study 1, that the demand and attention required seemed to influence willingness to engage, it was noted that Fuller s (2005) Task Capability Interface model would serve as a useful framework for the remainder of the thesis. This model suggests that driver behaviour is dictated by the level of task difficulty perceived; an interaction between task demand and capability. Therefore, the effects these two elements might have on willingness to engage with mobile phones while driving were tested separately in the two remaining studies. Previous research suggested that task demand should comprise a combination of roadway demand and the intended phoning task. Study 2, therefore, experimentally tested the extent to which road demand and phone function intended to be used influenced drivers decisions to engage with their phone. Participants (N=20) viewed video clips of real road environments of varying demand. Rating scales were used by participants to rate their willingness to engage with various phone functions according to the scenario they had just viewed. It was found both roadway demand and phone functionality affected willingness to engage with a mobile phone whilst driving. There was a higher propensity to engage in phone use in road environments perceived to have a lower demand and lower propensity to engage in phone use in the highest demand scenarios. Answering a call was the most likely function to be engaged with by the participants and sending a text message was the least likely. The final study investigated how capability (comprising both phone and driving capability) influenced willingness to engage. Participants (N=40) were required to drive in a simulator under two conditions, simulated low and high road demand. Their willingness to interact with their phones, when faced with a number of phone tasks, was then observed. It was found that driving capability had an effect on willingness to engage in high demand scenarios with the less capable, novice, drivers having a higher propensity to engage with placing a call, sending a text message and reading a text message than the more experienced drivers. Novice drivers were willing to engage with some functions on their phone at possibly inappropriate times. It was further found that, in the simulated low demand road environment, phone capability influenced willingness to engage, with those who were more capable at placing a call and sending a text message found to be more willing to engage with these functions. The research reported in this thesis represents the first attempt in the literature to study, in depth, the factors which can influence phone engagement behaviour while driving. Novel contributions include investigating if factors influencing phone use transferred from out of the car to the driving environment. Further novel contributions included whether the phone function and road demand interact to influence willingness to engage and whether capability can affect phone engagement behaviour while driving. Extending the model developed by Fuller, the thesis offers an original model that describes the factors affecting phone engagement behaviour while driving. Suggestions are proposed for how the findings presented in this thesis can effectively be used and how future work should build on these initial foundations.