Individual differences during driver secondary task performance: Verbal protocol and visual allocation findings

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    This paper reports a study in which visual allocation and verbal reports were recorded to determine individual differences in drivers conducting in-vehicle tasks. Participants drove a simulated route whilst conducting pre-defined tasks using the in-vehicle entertainment system. Tasks of varying complexity were presented to the participants. Licensed (experienced) drivers made significantly more verbal reports relating to road signs and markings, vehicles, scenery in general and vehicle operations; than did unlicensed (novices). No significant difference was found between expert and novice drivers when reporting in-car entertainment system related utterances. Surprising gender differences were also found. Males drover faster, with greater variance, and made more utterances in identified categories. Females were found to make significantly less verbal reports during secondary task performance. The difference in results obtained between expert and novices may imply that novices need to use their attention capacity to focus on the skill of driving, whereas experts through experience, have automated this skill and can use their attention capacity to more effectively during primary tasks. Results suggest that expert drivers are not necessarily experts at undertaking secondary tasks. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)655-662
    Number of pages8
    JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2002


    • Driver
    • Expert
    • Gender
    • Novice
    • Skill acquisition
    • Verbal protocol
    • Visual allocation


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