The Effects of Text Messaging During Dual-Task Driving Simulation on Cardiovascular and Respiratory Responses and Reaction Time
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Citation:The Ohio Journal of Science, v111, n2-5 (January, 2013), 42-44.
Research over the past decade has shown the potentially harmful effects of distracted driving, particularly on reaction time of the driver to external stimuli. With the recent surge in frequency of the use of cell phones for text messaging in nearly all situations, including during driving, it is important to understand the impact of texting on driver reaction time and the body’s physiological response. This study attempts to replicate the effects of text messaging distractions on reaction times found in previous studies, and correlate both physiological and cognitive stress in dual-task situations as measured by changes in cardiovascular and respiratory function and reaction time. Forty subjects completed computerized reaction time tests in single-task (no texting) and dual-task (texting) conditions with heart and respiratory rates manually measured before and after each test. Results showed that text messaging significantly increased reaction time (p < 0.05, N=40), heart rate (p < 0.05, N=40), and respiratory rate (p < 0.05, N=40) in the dual-task environment. The increase in reaction time represents a decrease in mental output, which can be attributed to increase in cognitive workload and stress. This is indicative of decreases in attention and perception of stimuli. The increase in cognitive demands is supported by the increases in heart and respiratory rates, which are physiological responses to stress. While this study affirms the notion of text messaging as a possibly dangerous distraction that elicits a total body physiological stress response, more research needs to be done in natural driving settings to support its observations.
Author Institution: Department of Biological and Allied Health Sciences, Ohio Northern University