Driver Reaction Time to Tactile and Auditory Rear-End Collision Warnings While Talking on a Cell Phone

R Mohebbi, Robert Gray, HZ Tan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

125 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE This study examined the effectiveness of rear-end collision warnings presented in different sensory modalities while drivers were engaged in cell phone conversations in a driving simulator. BACKGROUND Tactile and auditory collision warnings have been shown to improve braking response time (RT) in rear-end collision situations. However, it is not clear how effective these warnings are when the driver is engaged in attentionally demanding secondary tasks, such as talking on a cell phone. METHOD Sixteen participants in a driving simulator experienced three collision warning conditions (none, tactile, and auditory) in three conversation conditions (none, simple hands free, complex hands free). Driver RT was captured from warning onset to brake initiation (WON2B). RESULTS WON2B times for auditory warnings were significantly larger for simple conversations compared with no conversation (+148 ms), whereas there was no significant difference between these conditions for tactile warnings (+53 ms). For complex conversations, WON2B times for both tactile (+146 ms) and auditory warnings (+221 ms) were significantly larger than during no conversation. During complex conversations, tactile warnings produced significantly shorter WON2B times than no warning (-141 ms). CONCLUSION Tactile warnings are more effective than auditory warnings during both simple and complex conversations. APPLICATION These results indicate that tactile rear-end collision warnings have the potential to offset some of the driving impairments caused by cell phone conversations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-110
Number of pages9
JournalHuman Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2009


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