Effects of Single Versus Multiple Warnings on Driver Performance

Cummings, M.L, Kilgore, R., Wang, E., Tijerina, L, and Kochhar, D.

Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Volume 49, Number 6 (December 2007)

This study investigated the effects of auditory alarm scheme, reliability, and collision event type on driver performance. Using a 2 × 2 × 4 mixed factorial design, we investigated the impact of two alarm schemes (master vs. individual) and two levels of alarm reliability (high and low) on distracted drivers’ performance across four collision event types (frontal collision warnings, left and right lane departure warnings, and warnings for a fast-approaching following vehicle). Participants’ reaction times and accuracy rates were significantly affected by the type of collision event and alarm reliability. The use of individual alarms, rather than a single master alarm, did not significantly affect driving performance in terms of reaction time or response accuracy. Even though a master alarm is a relatively uninformative warning, it produced statistically no different reaction times or accuracy results when compared with information-rich auditory icons, some of which were spatially located. In addition, unreliable alarms negatively impacted driver performance, regardless of event type or alarm scheme.

M. L. Cummings, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ryan M. Kilgore, Charles River Analytics
Enlie Wang, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Louis Tijerina and Dev S. Kochhar, Ford Motor Company

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