The Effects of Individual Factors and Task Demands on Driving Performance

Report No. ARL-RP-469
Authors: David R. Scribner
Date/Pages: January 2014; 230 pages
Abstract: Multiple theoretical approaches may enhance cognitive performance research and models focused on driving performance. Higher explanatory power and better prediction models may be created using individual factors derived from transactional stress and information processing theories. The purpose of this study was to examine multitheoretical individual factor effects of coping style and working memory capacity as covariates, correlation variables, and as predictor variables in dual task simulated driving scenarios of various difficulty. A quantitative repeated measures approach was used to assess the effects of these individual factors under 3 dual-task difficulty levels. Participants consisted of a convenience sample of 78 federal workers and local community college students from the northeastern United States aged 18 to 61 years. Research questions assessed the level of change in stress and performance measures while controlling for covariates of coping style and working memory capacity, the relationship strength between these 2 variables, and the predictive effects of these variables. Hypotheses were tested using MANCOVA, ANCOVA, correlation, and multiple regression analyses. Results yielded strong evidence that individual measures of working memory capacity and coping style are mutually supportive and provided greater explanatory variance than did task difficulty levels for cognitive task performance. Working memory capacity was also found to have a mediating relationship between a composite coping style score and secondary task error. Positive social change implications include the better understanding among cognitive researchers of the individual factors of distracted driving and the potential that improved research metrics may contribute to reduced driver fatalities in the future.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: January 1, 2014