Mechanisms Behind Distracted Driving Behavior: The Role of Age and Executive Function in the Engagement of Distracted Driving

Pope, C.N.; Bell, T.R.; Stavrinos, D.

This study investigated the relationship between age, behavioral manifestations of executive function, and self-reported distracted driving behaviors. A total of 59 participants aged 19 to 91 years of age took part in the survey. The survey contained 75 questions regarding real-world behavioral disruptions that have occurred over the past month. Once finished, participants completed a Distracted Driving Behavior questionnaire that assessed self-reported distracted driving behaviors on a weekly basis. The questionnaire contained ten behaviors and participants were asked to report how often they engaged in each behavior during the past week. These ten behaviors were: 1) drinking a cold beverage, 2) eating, 3) talking/singing while no other passengers are present, 4) reaching without taking your eyes off the road, 5) driving lost in thought, 6) talking on a “hands-held” cell phone, 7) talking on a “hands-free” cell phone, 8) using a GPS navigation system, 9) sending a text message on a cell phone, and 10) receiving a text message on a cell phone.

Results revealed that while age was partially a factor in distraction, global executive difficulty with driving ability was largely due to engagement with distracted driving behaviors. Although this was less frequent in older adults, the frequency of these behaviors was roughly the same between young and middle-aged adults. Findings concluded that distracted driving is prevalent across all age groups.

Pope, C. N., Bell, T. R., & Stavrinos, D. (2017). Mechanisms behind distracted driving behavior: the role of age and executive function in the engagement of distracted driving. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 98, 123-129.