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Access Type

Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Program

Industrial Engineering & Operations Research

Degree Type

Master of Science in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (M.S.I.E.O.R.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



The current driving simulator study investigates the effect of 2 distinct levels of distraction on a drivers’ situational awareness and latent and inherent hazard anticipation. In this study, rear-end crashes were used as the primary crash configuration to target a specific category of crashes due to distraction. The two types of task load used in the experiment was a cognitive distraction (mock cell-phone task) & visual distraction (I-pad task). Forty-eight young participants aged 18-25 years navigated 8 scenarios each in a mixed subject design with task load (cognitive or visual distraction) as a between-subject variable and the presence/absence of distraction representing the within-subject variable. All participants drove 4 scenarios with a distraction and 4 scenarios without any distraction. Physiological variables in the form of Heart rate and heart rate variability was collected for each participant during the practice drives and after each of the 8 experimental drives. After the completion of each experimental drive, participants were asked to fill up a NASA TLX questionnaire which quantifies the overall task load experienced by giving it a score between 1 and 100, where higher scores translate to higher perceived task load. Eye-movements were also recorded for the proportion of latent and inherent hazards anticipated and mitigated for all participants. Standard vehicle data (velocity, acceleration & lane offset) were also collected from the simulator for each participants’ each drive. Analysis of data showed that there was a significant difference in velocity, lane offset and task load index scores across the 2 groups (between-subject factors). The vehicle data, heart rate data and TLX data was analyzed using Mixed subject ANOVA. There was also a logistic regression model devised which showed significant effects of velocity, lane offset, TLX scores and age on a participants’ hazard anticipation abilities. The findings have a major practical implication in reducing drivers’ risk of fatal, serious or near crashes.


First Advisor

Siby Samuel

Second Advisor

Michael Knodler Jr.

Third Advisor

Shannon Roberts