Conference Proceeding

Multisensory Signal Detection: How Does Driving and IVIS Management Affect Performance?

  • Natasha Merat (University of Leeds, U.K.)
  • A Hamish Jamson (University of Leeds, U.K.)


Signal detection was used as a ‘tertiary’ task to assess drivers’ ‘spare processing capacity’ during the performance of two in-vehicle information systems (IVIS). The main aims of the study were: a) to establish if performance on signal detection can be used to assess IVIS safety during driving and b) to determine whether signal modality is important for this assessment. Participants performed each IVIS (Phone or Count) during a driving simulation experiment. In addition to performing the driving and IVIS, participants were required to complete three detection tasks (DT): (i) a visual DT (ii) an auditory DT, and (iii) a tactile DT. Average reaction time to the DTs was found to increase by around 200ms when performed with the IVIS tasks. It can be argued that any significant increase in reaction time to the DTs is a good indicator of drivers’ reduced hazard perception/situation awareness, which might occur as a result of using in-car systems. No significant difference in performance was found between the various DTs, suggesting that performance relies on central attentional resources, and is not modality-specific. This affords some flexibility for assessing the safety of IVIS in different driving environments. For instance, an auditory DT might be used in field studies on a sunny day when bright light hinders detection of LEDs used in a visual version of the task. Similarly, the tactile version of the task might be useful for testing IVIS in a noisy driving environment.

How to Cite:

Merat, N. & Jamson, A., (2007) “Multisensory Signal Detection: How Does Driving and IVIS Management Affect Performance?”, Driving Assessment Conference 4(2007), 351-357. doi:

Rights: Copyright © 2007 the author(s)

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Published on
11 Jul 2007
Peer Reviewed