Conference Proceeding

Performing E-mail Tasks While Driving: The Impact of Speech-Based Tasks on Visual Detection

  • Joanne L Harbluk (Transport Canada, Canada)
  • Simone Lalande (Transport Canada, Canada)


Drivers listened and responded to e-mail messages presented in ahuman voice and two types of synthetic speech (concatenative and formant) whiledriving a simulator. Their performance for visual event detection, vehicle control,and message responses was assessed. Results indicated that the type of speechoutput system affected drivers’ detection of visual changes in the drivingenvironment; they were poorer at detecting these events when either of thesynthetic speech systems was used. Drivers detected fewer visual changes duringthe difficult messages than during the baseline driving. No effects of the speechsystem type or e-mail message difficulty were observed on the vehicle controlmeasures. Drivers were also less accurate when responding to message content formessages presented in synthetic speech (concatenative) compared with recordedhuman voice. Subjective ratings indicated that listening to the synthetic speechrequired more mental effort than listening to the recorded human voice.Preference ratings for the interfaces decreased as mental effort increased. Theresults indicated that although drivers were not required to direct their attentionaway from the road, using the speech-based interfaces reduced drivers’ visualevent detection and their response accuracy to messages themselves.

How to Cite:

Harbluk, J. & Lalande, S., (2005) “Performing E-mail Tasks While Driving: The Impact of Speech-Based Tasks on Visual Detection”, Driving Assessment Conference 3(2005), 311-317. doi:

Rights: Copyright © 2005 the author(s)

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Published on
29 Jun 2005
Peer Reviewed