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Hum Factors. 2001 Winter;43(4):631-40.

Speech-based interaction with in-vehicle computers: the effect of speech-based e-mail on drivers' attention to the roadway.

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Hon Industries, Muscatine, Iowa, USA.


As computer applications for cars emerge, a speech-based interface offers an appealing alternative to the visually demanding direct manipulation interface. However, speech-based systems may pose cognitive demands that could undermine driving safety. This study used a car-following task to evaluate how a speech-based e-mail system affects drivers' response to the periodic braking of a lead vehicle. The study included 24 drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 years. A baseline condition with no e-mail system was compared with a simple and a complex e-mail system in both simple and complex driving environments. The results show a 30% (310 ms) increase in reaction time when the speech-based system is used. Subjective workload ratings and probe questions also indicate that speech-based interaction introduces a significant cognitive load, which was highest for the complex e-mail system. These data show that a speech-based interface is not a panacea that eliminates the potential distraction of in-vehicle computers. Actual or potential applications of this research include design of in-vehicle information systems and evaluation of their contributions to driver distraction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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