The effects of distraction on younger drivers: A neurophysiological perspective

Jake Goldsworthy, Christopher Watling, Chae Rose, Gregoire Larue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Distracted driving remains a significant cause of traffic accidents globally, including in Australia. However, many younger drivers still admit to using a phone while driving. A simulated driving study investigated the neurophysiological effects of visual, auditory, and higher-order cognitive (i.e., requiring the use of executive functions) distraction on young drivers. In total, 24 young adults aged 18–25 years completed four 8 min simulated driving sessions while concurrently engaging in various distractor tasks. Neurophysiological arousal was measured via EEG. Additionally, subjective workload and objective driving performance were assessed. Frontal beta and gamma power exhibited their highest levels during tasks involving higher-order cognitive and visual demands. The higher-order cognitive condition was rated as the most mentally demanding. In comparison, the visual condition had the most significant impact on both the standard deviation of speed and standard deviation of lateral positioning. This study has significant implications for all road users, particularly those aged 18–25 years, and it reinforces the importance of not using a phone while driving.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104147
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Early online dateOct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024


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