mental workload, workload transitions, driver performance, cueing, driving simulation
This dissertation presents two studies examining the interaction between workload history and driver mental workload. The first experiment focuses on testing for the presence of a hysteresis effect in the driving task. The second experiment examines the proposition that cueing impending periods of higher task demand can reduce the impact of any such potential hysteresis effects. Thirty-two licensed drivers served as participants and all served in both studies. Using the directions provided by a Heads-Up-Display navigation system, participants followed a pre-set route in the simulated environment. At specified points within the drive, the navigation system would purposefully fail which required drivers to relay a ten digit alphanumeric error code to a remote operator in order to reset the system. Results indicated that this increase in task demand from the navigation system's failure leads to a significant increase in perceived mental workload as compared to pre-failure periods. This increase in driver mental workload was not significantly reduced by the time the drive ended, indicating the presence of a hysteresis effect. In the second experiment, the navigation system provided a completely reliable visual warning before failure. Results indicate that cueing had neither an effect on perceived mental workload, nor any ameliorating effect on the hysteretic type effect seen in mental workload recovery. The conclusion of these findings being that the overall safety and efficiency of the surface transportation system would likely improve by designs which accommodate the periods immediately following a reduction in stress. Whether from leaving high demand areas such as work zones or in the period immediately after using a in-car information device such as a GPS or a cell phone, these post-high workload periods are associated with increased variability in driver inputs and levels of mental workload.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Morgan, Justin, "Hysteresis Effects In Driving" (2008). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 3753.