Effects of age and the use of hands-free cellular phones on driving behaviour and task performance

Liu, Y.C., and Ou, Y.K.
Taylor & Francis Group

The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of using a Bluetooth hands-free cellular phone earpiece on the driving behaviour. The study involved 48 participants and drivers representing two age categories were included in the study: aged 20 to 26 years, and aged 65 to 73 years. Tasks were completed on a driving simulator, and participants were asked to assess their driving performance in relation to their ability to maintain the speed limit while using a cell phone while driving. Results showed that under low driving loads (i.e., short talk times, and simple conversational content), the variance in the mean speed of vehicles was low whereas complex conversations had a significantly negative impact on driving behaviour. In addition, there was evidence that using a hands-free phone while driving significantly affected the performance of older drivers more than younger drivers in the areas of acceleration, lane deviation, reaction time, and accuracy. Calls that lasted less than two minutes did not change driver behaviour, whereas phone calls longer than three minutes significantly affected the driver’s speed control, especially among older drivers. Based on these results, the authors suggested that risk perception, safety education, and planning require more attention. Additionally, the development of in-vehicle warning information systems is needed to increase driver alertness when using their cell phone.

Liu, Y. C., & Ou, Y. K. (2011). Effects of age and the use of hands-free cellular phones on driving behavior and task performance. Traffic Injury Prevention, 12(6), 550-558.