Mental workload and driving

Abstract : The aim of this review is to identify the most representative measures of subjective and objective mental workload in driving, and to understand how the subjective and objective levels of mental workload influence the performance as a function of situation complexity and driving experience, i.e., to verify whether the increase of situation complexity and the lack of experience increase the subjective and physiological levels of mental workload and lead to driving performance impairments. This review will be useful to both researchers designing an experimental study of mental workload and to designers of drivers' training content. In the first part, we will broach the theoretical approach with two factors of mental workload and performance, i.e., situation complexity and driving experience. Indeed, a low complex situation (e.g., highways), or conversely a high complex situation (e.g., town) can provoke an overload. Additionally, performing the driving tasks implies producing a high effort for novice drivers who have not totally automated the driving activity. In the second part, we will focus on subjective measures of mental workload. A comparison of questionnaires usually used in driving will allow identifying the most appropriate ones as a function of different criteria. Moreover, we will review the empirical studies to verify if the subjective level of mental workload is high in simple and very complex situations, especially for novice drivers compared to the experienced ones. In the third part, we will focus on physiological measures. A comparison of physiological indicators will be realized in order to identify the most correlated to mental workload. An empirical review will also take the effect of situation complexity and experience on these physiological indicators into consideration. Finally, a more nuanced comparison between subjective and physiological measures will be established from the impact on situation complexity and experience.
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Julie Paxion, Edith Galy, Catherine Berthelon. Mental workload and driving. Frontiers in Psychology, Frontiers, 2014, 5 (1344 ), ⟨10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01344⟩. ⟨hal-01240118⟩

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