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Hum Factors. 2008 Oct;50(5):772-81.

Assessing the effectiveness of interactive media in improving drowsy driver safety.

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  • 1Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-2050, USA.



This study investigated the possibility of using interactive media to help drowsy drivers wake up, thereby enabling them to drive more safely.


Many studies have investigated the negative impacts of driver drowsiness and distraction in cars, separately. However, none has studied the potentially positive effects of slightly interactive media for rousing drowsy drivers to help them drive more safely.


In a 2 (drowsy vs. nondrowsy drivers) x 2 (passive vs. slightly interactive voice-based media) x 2 (monotonous vs. varied driving courses) study, participants (N = 79) used a driving simulator while interacting with a language-learning system that was either passive (i.e., drivers merely listen to phrases in another language) or slightly interactive (i.e., drivers verbally repeat those phrases).


(a) Drowsy drivers preferred and drove more safely with slightly interactive media, as compared with passive media. (b) Interactive media did not harm nondrowsy driver safety. (c) Drivers drove more safely on varied driving courses than on monotonous ones.


Slightly interactive media hold the potential to improve the performance of drowsy drivers on the primary task of driving safely.


Applications include the design of interactive systems that increase user alertness, safety, and engagement on primary tasks, as opposed to systems that take attentional resources away from the primary task of driving.

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