Divided Attention in Experienced Young and Older Drivers: Lane Tracking and Visual Analysis in a Dynamic Driving Simulator

W.H Brouwer, W Waterink, P.C Van Wolffelaar, Talib Rothengatter

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    114 Citations (Scopus)


    A simulated driving task that required the simultaneous execution of two continuous visual tasks was administered to 12 healthy young (mean age 26.1 years) and 12 healthy older (mean age 64.4 years) experienced and currently active drivers. The first task was a compensatory lane-tracking task involving a three-dimensional road display. The second task was a timed, self-paced visual analysis task involving either a vocal or manual binary response to dot patterns projected within the road display. Using adaptive tasks, single-task difficulty was individually adjusted for each subject. To control for individual differences in attention allocation strategy, the dual task was performed according to three different sets of instructions based on the relative importance of each task. Compared with young adults, older adults showed a significantly decreased ability to divide attention. This effect was apparent in lane tracking and in the accuracy of visual analysis. The impairment of divided attention was less pronounced in the vocal condition than in the manual one. Thius suggests that difficulty in integrating responses may be an important determinant of poor dual-task performance in old age.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)573-582
    Number of pages10
    JournalHuman Factors
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Oct-1991

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