Conference Proceeding

Using Microworlds to Design Intelligent Interfaces that Minimize Driver Distraction

  • Barry H Kantowitz (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)


While recent developments in telematics have produced great interest in driverdistraction, this is hardly a new topic. An early UMTRI report (Treat, 1980)defined internal distraction as a diversion of attention from the driving task that iscompelled by an activity or event inside the vehicle. Based on data collected inMonroe County Indiana, Treat (1980) concluded that internal distraction was afactor in 9% of in-depth reports and 6% of on-site investigations. In the period ofdata collection (1972-1975) conversation with a passenger and increasing use ofentertainment tape decks were the major sources of distraction. Now a host ofmodern infotronic devices offers even greater opportunities for internal distraction(Kantowitz, 2000).Intelligent driver-vehicle interfaces present a wonderful opportunity tosuccessfully manage this increased in-vehicle workload. This smart interfacewould be adaptive, making dynamic allocation of function decisions in real time.Designing such an intelligent interface presents many problems. In particular,since new infotronic devices are being developed and deployed rapidly, it seemsdifficult to evaluate all these new designs. This chapter focuses upon usingmicroworlds to swiftly assess effects of in-vehicle infotronics upon driverdistraction.Microworlds vary along several dimensions such as realism, tractability andengagement (Ehret, Gray, & Kirschbaum, 2000). The traditional drivingsimulator is only one example of a relevant microworld. By considering a widerrange of microworlds, we can gain insight into how to best utilize drivingsimulators. Issues of validity are also illuminated when considered from amicroworld perspective. If appropriate intelligent interfaces are designed,telematics should never increase driver distraction.

How to Cite:

Kantowitz, B., (2001) “Using Microworlds to Design Intelligent Interfaces that Minimize Driver Distraction”, Driving Assessment Conference 1(2001), 42-57. doi:

Rights: Copyright © 2001 the author(s)

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Published on
15 Aug 2001
Peer Reviewed