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Gap acceptance behavior at unsignalized intersections: Effects of using a phone and a music player while driving

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journal contribution
posted on 30.04.2019 by Pushpa Choudhary, Nagendra R. Velaga

Objectives: The present study is an attempt to analyze and compare the distraction effects caused by the use of a phone and a music player at unsignalized intersections.

Method: Eighty-eight participants performed simulated driving experiments where they faced a sequence of gaps in the major road traffic at 2 unsignalized intersections. In this process, their driving behavior was evaluated in terms of gap acceptance probability, accepted lag, and maneuver completion time. These parameters were modeled with a generalized estimating equation (GEE) method by considering distraction, demographic factors, driving history, maneuver types, and driving attributes in the approach and completion zones as independent variables.

Results: The results showed that gap acceptance probability decreased by 46% during the conversation task, whereas it increased by 66% during the music player task. Lower gap acceptance could be a compensatory behavior adopted by drivers during the conversation task, whereas no such measure was adapted during the music player task. The results indicate that a higher approach speed during the music player task might have led to increased gap acceptance. Further, though the effect of distraction on the accepted lag was not evident, the completion time was reduced during the conversation task.

Conclusions: Overall, the results suggest that drivers are more likely to adopt a compensatory measure in complex driving situations only if they perceive a high risk. Hence, drivers are exposed to a greater risk while operating a music player, because this is not perceived as risky behavior.