Study Says Radio Traffic Reports Are A Serious Distraction For Drivers
April 28, 2016 at 5:43 AM (PT)
The debate over distracted driving now includes a surprise entry: radio traffic reports. SCIENCEDAILY reports that a study presented to the BRITISH PSYCHOLOGICAL SOCIETY conference in NOTTINGHAM on WEDNESDAY (4/27) by GILLIAN MURPHY of UNIVERSITY COLLEGE CORK and Dr. CIARA GREENE of UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN examining Perceptual Load Theory and its effect on driving had 36 people use a driving simulator while listening for a traffic report.
Half were asked to notice when the report voice changed gender, a "simple task," while the other half were to pay attention for a report on a particular road, a "complex task." Only 23% of drivers in the complex task category noticed an elephant or gorilla by the side of the road, as compared to 71% of those in the simple task category. The complex-task group was also worse at obeying road signs and at simple driving tasks.
MURPHY said, "The fact that we found this using a simple, naturally occurring task like listening out for a traffic update on the radio suggests that the load on our hearing may be an important and overlooked contributor to driver distraction and inattention."