Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Document Type



A number of studies have been done in the field of driver distraction, specifically on the use of cell phone for either conversation or texting while driving. However, till now, researchers have focused on the driving performance of drivers when they were actually engaged in the task, i.e. during the texting or phone conversation event. The primary objective of this study is to analyze the post event effect of cell phone usage in order to verify whether the distracting effect lingers on after the actual event had ceased. The research utilizes a driving simulator study of thirty-six participants to test whether a significant decrease in driver performance occurs during and after cell phone usage (texting and conversation). The standard deviations of lane position and mean velocity was used as dependent measures to represent lateral and longitudinal control of the vehicle respectively. Linear mixed model with subject as a random factor and F-test for the equality of variance were used as statistical measures. The results from the study suggest that there was no significant decrease in driver performance during and after the cell phone conversation both laterally and longitudinally. On the contrary, during the texting event, a significant decrease in driver performance was observed both in the lateral and longitudinal control of the vehicle. The diminishing effect of texting on longitudinal control ceased immediately after the texting event but the diminishing effect of texting on lateral control lingered on for an average of 3.388 seconds. The number of text messages exchanged did not affect the magnitude and duration of the diminished lateral control. This indicates that the distraction and subsequent elevated crash risk of texting while driving linger on even after the texting event has ceased. Such finding has safety and policy implications in the fight to reduce distracted driving.



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Committee Chair

Ishak, Sherif