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The Effect of a Secondary Task on Drivers’ Gap Acceptance and Situational Awareness at Junctions

Robbins, Chloe J.; Rogers, James; Walton, Sophie; Allen, Harriet A.; Chapman, Peter


Chloe J. Robbins

James Rogers

Sophie Walton

Professor of Lifespan Psychology


The current studies explored the roles of the visuospatial and phonological working memory subsystems on drivers’ gap acceptance and memory for approaching vehicles at junctions. Drivers’ behaviour was measured in a high-fidelity driving simulator when at a junction, with, and without a visuospatial or phonological load. When asked to judge when to advance across the junction, gap acceptance thresholds, memory for vehicles and eye movements were not different when there was a secondary task compared to control. However, drivers’ secondary task performance was more impaired in the visuospatial than phonological domain. These findings suggest that drivers were able to accept impairment in the secondary task while maintaining appropriate safety margins and situational awareness. These findings can inform the development of in-car technologies, improving the safety of road users at junctions.


Robbins, C. J., Rogers, J., Walton, S., Allen, H. A., & Chapman, P. (2021). The Effect of a Secondary Task on Drivers’ Gap Acceptance and Situational Awareness at Junctions. Ergonomics, 64(2), 184-198.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 4, 2020
Online Publication Date Oct 5, 2020
Publication Date 2021
Deposit Date Sep 21, 2020
Publicly Available Date Oct 6, 2021
Journal Ergonomics
Print ISSN 0014-0139
Electronic ISSN 1366-5847
Publisher Taylor & Francis Open
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 64
Issue 2
Pages 184-198
Public URL
Publisher URL


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