Conference Proceeding

Driver Distraction: A Naturalistic Observation of Secondary Behaviors With the Use of Driver Assistance Systems

  • James R Sayer (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
  • Mary Lynn Mefford (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
  • Kezia Shirkey (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
  • Jessica Lantz (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)


This report describes the naturalistic observation of secondary behaviors performed by 66 drivers who took part in the Automotive Collision Avoidance System Field Operational Test (ACAS FOT). The ACAS FOT included two driver assistance systems, adaptive cruise control (ACC) and forward collision warning (FCW). Each driver participated in both baseline (no driver assistance systems for one week) and treatment conditions (both ACC and FCW available for 3 weeks). The method employed was to sub-sample video data, and code drivers’ secondary behaviors using 4 s video clips of the driver, collected every 5 minutes. Eight-hundred and ninety video clips were reviewed and coded while participants drove manually, with conventional cruise control, ACC, and FCW. The results show that drivers who took part in the field test were no more likely to engage in secondary behaviors when driving with ACC and FCW in comparison to manual control. When the driver assistance systems became available to the participants, there was an increase in the number of conversations drivers had with passengers, probably related to the driver explaining the novel ACAS system to passengers. The results have important implications in that, at least for the duration of exposure examined, they counter the concern often raised that driver assistance systems will promote driver distraction, lapses in attention or modification in perceived risk.

How to Cite:

Sayer, J. & Mefford, M. & Shirkey, K. & Lantz, J., (2005) “Driver Distraction: A Naturalistic Observation of Secondary Behaviors With the Use of Driver Assistance Systems”, Driving Assessment Conference 3(2005), 262-268. doi:

Rights: Copyright © 2005 the author(s)

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Published on
29 Jun 2005
Peer Reviewed