The study was meant to see if both older and younger adults driving performance was affected by talking and holding a conversation on a cell phone. It explored to see how older adults are penalized by the real world dual-task activity, which would be them holding a conversation on a cell phone while driving. They said that the younger adults were more likely to miss traffic signals, signs, and other cars, and have a slower response time when they do see the other cars while using and holding a conversation on a cell phone. Even when the participants would look over in the direction of where the object was, they still didn’t actually see the object because their attention was on the phone conversation that was taking place and towards an internal cognitive context instead of the outside world.
In this experiment they used a car following paradigm where the participants would drive on multiple highways with a single-task, i.e. driving with only and not holding a phone conversation on a cell phone, and then they had the same thing but with a dual-task, i.e. driving while holding a conversation on a cell phone. The participants would follow a pace car that would randomly push on their brakes at random intervals while driving on the highway. They measured a variety of performance variables such as driving speeds, following distance, brake onset time and other variables that have been shown to affect the likelihood or severity of rear end collisions. The experimenters predicted that the variables would be altered given the cognitive basis of distraction associated with talking on a cell phone and holding a conversation on it. Prior research has suggested that both the following distance and brake onset time would be lengthened when drivers are talking and holding on a conversation.
The participants in the experiment consisted of twenty older adults and twenty younger adults, the younger adults were around the ages of eighteen to twenty years old with the average being twenty, and the older adults being between the ages of sixty-four to seventy-four years old with the average age of seventy. The older adults scored significantly lower scores in both digit symbol and maze tracing, which indicated that a decrease in processing speed for this cohort (Strayer, D. L., & Drews, F. A. 2004 p.641). All the participants were in good health, and had normal or corrected to normal vision, and normal color vision, and also possessed a valid driver’s license.
The experiment was done using a driving simulator; the simulator proprietary vehicle dynamics, traffic scenarios, and road surface software to provide a realistic driving experience complete with normal traffic conditions. The dashboard instruments, steering wheel, and both pedals were taken from a Ford Crown Victoria. The simulator simulated a twenty-four mile highway with on and off ramps, overpasses and two- and three- lane traffic in both directions. There was a pace car in the...