Effects of Distraction and Traffic Events Expectation on Drivers’ Performances in a Longitudinal Control Task

  • Luca Minin
  • Lorenzo Fantesini
  • Roberto Montanari
  • Fabio Tango
Conference paper



In recent studies it has been investigated how the decrease of situation awareness is related to the level of drivers’ attention dedicated to the road and to drivers’ incorrect expectation on traffic events. This paper is aimed at investigating the effects of a distracting visual research task and drivers’ expectations on traffic behaviour on drivers’ on-road performances.


Twenty drivers were involved in a driving experiment where they were asked to perform several car followings, with and without interacting with a visual research task. Expectations of traffic behaviour were reproduced by varying (i) the lead vehicle speed: proceeding at a variable speed and sudden brake and (ii) size: a car for predictable conditions, a bus (obstructing follower sight) for unpredictable. Average Time Headway and Brake Reaction Time were selected as on-road performance indicators.


Results confirmed literature findings in terms of driver behaviour impairment in the visual research task conditions; at the same time, the unpredictability of lead driver behaviour negatively influenced the longitudinal behaviour, in particular when drivers were asked to also deal with the secondary task.


The interesting aspect of the results is the negative effect on the longitudinal behaviour of the reproduced unexpected events. Even if this is a small scale experiment, significant differences have been found, even worst if drivers also have to deal with a secondary task. Data collected and experiment findings have also been used to design a driver model for the prediction of driver’s distraction, currently under development.


Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Automotive environment Modelling distraction Driver vehicle interction 



The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under grant agreement no. 218552 Project ISi-PADAS.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia Srl 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luca Minin
    • 1
  • Lorenzo Fantesini
    • 1
  • Roberto Montanari
    • 1
  • Fabio Tango
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Science and Methods for EngineeringUniversity of Modena and Reggio EmiliaReggio EmiliaItaly
  2. 2.Fiat Research Center (CRF)TurinItaly

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