Fatigue in Younger and Older Drivers: Effectiveness of an Alertness-Maintaining Task

Woojin Song, Fu L. Woon, Alice Doong, Carol Persad, Louis Tijerina, Pooja Pandit, Carol Cline, Bruno Giordani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the effects of an alertness-maintaining task (AMT) in older, fatigued drivers. Background: Fatigue during driving increases crash risk, and previous research suggests that alertness and driving in younger adults may be improved using a secondary AMT during boring, fatigue-eliciting drives. However, the potential impact of an AMT on driving has not been investigated in older drivers whose ability to complete dual tasks has been shown to decline and therefore may be negatively affected with an AMT in driving. Method: Younger (n = 29) and older drivers (n = 39) participated in a 50-minute simulated drive designed to induce fatigue, followed by four 10-minute sessions alternating between driving with and without an AMT. Results: Younger drivers were significantly more affected by fatigue on driving performance than were older drivers but benefitted significantly from the AMT. Older drivers did not demonstrate increased driver errors with fatigue, and driving did not deteriorate significantly during participation in the AMT condition, although their speed was significantly more variable with the AMT. Conclusion: Consistent with earlier research, an AMT applied during fatiguing driving is effective in improving alertness and reducing driving errors in younger drivers. Importantly, older drivers were relatively unaffected by fatigue, and use of an AMT did not detrimentally affect their driving performance. Application: These results support the potential use of an AMT as a new automotive technology to improve fatigue and promote driver safety, though the benefits of such technology may differ between different age groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)995-1008
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Factors
Volume59
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

Keywords

  • alertness-maintaining task
  • driving performance
  • fatigue
  • older drivers
  • simulated driving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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