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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Industrial Engineering & Operations Research

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Distracted driving involving secondary tasks is known to lead to an increased likelihood of being involved in motor vehicle crashes. Some secondary tasks are unnecessary and should never be performed. But other secondary tasks, e.g., operating the defroster, are critical to safe driving. Ideally, the driver should schedule when to perform the critical tasks such that the likelihood of a hazard materializing is relatively small during the performance of the secondary task. The current study evaluates a training program -- STRAP (Secondary Task Regulatory & Anticipatory Program) -- which is designed to make drivers aware of latent hazards in the hope that they regulate engagement in secondary tasks which they are performing at the time the latent hazard appears. The secondary tasks include both tasks that require drivers to take their eyes off the road (e.g., operating the defroster) and those which do not (e.g., cell phone use). Participants were assigned either to STRAP or placebo training. After training, the groups navigated eight different scenarios on a driving simulator and were instructed to engage during the drive in as many secondary tasks as possible as long as they felt safe to do so. Secondary task engagement was fully user paced. It is important to note that drivers receiving STRAP training were never instructed directly to either disengage from or not engage in secondary tasks when encountering latent hazards. The results show that STRAP trained drivers were more likely to detect latent hazards and associated clues than placebo trained drivers. With regards to secondary task engagement, STRAP trained drivers chose to limit their in-vehicle and cell phone task engagement by focusing on the forward roadway rather than the task at hand. STRAP training holds out the promise of providing individuals with the necessary skills and proactive awareness to make safe decisions regarding the non-performance or interruption of a secondary task in the presence of a potential latent hazard.


First Advisor

Donald L Fisher