Conference Proceeding

Using Utility Theory to Evaluate IVR Menu Structure and Reduce Driving Distraction

  • Michael E Rakauskas (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis)


It has been shown that drivers often exhibit degraded driving performance while concurrently engaging in secondary tasks, such as talking on a mobile phone using navigation systems and other in-vehicle devices. As there seem to be limited solutions at present to hasten or limit these behaviors, this paper outlines how utility theory can be applied to design more efficient and understandable menus. To determine the value of information presented by an interface menu, the frequency of using information in the menu (goals) and the amount of effort it takes to accomplish these goals are quantified for each type of information. This paper outlines a utility analysis that compares the current Minnesota 511 traveler information system and an alternative design intended to improve the user experience and lighten the cognitive load of drivers. The analysis indicated that the proposed changes in design increase value to the user by helping them more efficiently find and identify requested information. Designers can use this technique in order to increase the value of menu information, and in turn help users find and identify requested information more efficiently. It is hoped that more efficient menus will reduce the amount of time and attention that drivers spend using them, allowing for increased attention on the primary task of driving.

How to Cite:

Rakauskas, M., (2007) “Using Utility Theory to Evaluate IVR Menu Structure and Reduce Driving Distraction”, Driving Assessment Conference 4(2007), 408-415. doi:

Rights: Copyright © 2007 the author(s)

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Published on
11 Jul 2007
Peer Reviewed