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Vehicle automation: A remedy for driver stress?

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The present study addressed the effects of stress, vehicle automation and subjective state on driver performance and mood in a simulated driving task. A total of 168 college students participated. Participants in the stress-induction condition completed a 'winter' drive, which included periodic loss of control episodes. Participants in the no-stress-induction condition were not exposed to loss of control. An additional, independent manipulation of vehicle speed was also conducted, consisting of two control conditions requiring manual speed regulation and a third in which vehicle speed was automatically regulated by the simulation. Stress and automation both influenced subjective distress, but the two factors did not interact. Driver performance data indicated that vehicle automation impacted performance similarly in the stress and no-stress conditions. Individual differences in subjective stress response and performance were also investigated. Resource theory provides a framework that partially but not completely explains the relationship between vehicle automation and driver stress. Implications for driver workload, safety and training are discussed.
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Keywords: Automation; Driving; Safety; Stress

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2007

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