ABSTRACT: Young adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at higher risk for being involved in automobile crashes. Although driving simulators have been used to identify and understand underlying behaviors, prior research has focused largely on single-task, non-distracted driving. However, in-vehicle infotainment and communications systems often vie for a driver’s attention, potentially increasing the risk of collision. This paper explores the impact of secondary tasks on individuals with and without ADHD, a medical condition known to affect the regulation of attention. Data are drawn from a validated driving simulation representing periods before, during, and after participation in a secondary cognitive task. A hands-free phone taskwas employed in a high stimulus, urban setting and aworking memory task during low stimulus, highway driving. Drivers with ADHD had more difficulty on the telephone task, yet did not show an increased decrement in driving performance greater than control participants. In contrast, participants with ADHD showed a larger decline in driving performance than controls during a secondary task in a low demand setting. The results suggest that the interaction of the nature of the driving context and the secondary task has a significant influence on how drivers with ADHD allocate attention and, inturn, on the relative impact on driving performance. Drivers with ADHD appear particularly susceptible to distraction during periods of low stimulus driving.
Co-authors on the paper were Bruce Mehler, Lisa A. D’Ambrosio, and Ronna Fried.
The full paper can be downloaded from Accident Analysis and Prevention 42(3), 842-851.