Student Pilot Project: Is the Driving Performance of Older Adults Exceptionally Impacted by Cell Phone Notifications?

University  Florida State University (FSU)
Principal Investigators  Cary Stothart
PI Contact Information  Department of Psychology
Phone: 850.645.8734
Funding Source(s)and Amounts  Provided(by each agency or organization)  USDOT: $19,100
Florida State University: $9,600
Total Project Cost  $28,700
Agency ID or Contract Number  DTRT13-G-UTC42-033177-037439
Start and End Dates 09/01/2015 – 11/30/2016
Brief Description of Research Project 

Mind wandering—the generation of task-unrelated thoughts—negatively impacts people’s ability to drive. As just receiving a phone notification such as a call or text message may result in mind wandering, notifications may indirectly impair people’s driving ability. In a driving simulator, younger and older aged participants followed a pace car that occasionally braked. We sent some participants text messages or calls to their phones while they drove without them knowing that these notifications were from us. When we sent participants text messages, they followed the pace car more closely than when we didn’t send them anything. Notifications did not impact participants’ brake response times to the pace car or their likelihood of colliding with it. And, participant age group had no impact on the results. Just receiving a phone notification can impact at least one metric of driving performance.

Describe Implementation of Research Outcomes (or why not implemented) Place Any Photos Here Final Report
Impacts/Benefits of Implementation (actual, not anticipated) See Final Report