ERG SES F 09, Parallel Session F 09
This study aims at proposing an efficacious way to discriminate teenagers at risk of unsafe driving in their pre-driving years. The over-involvement of young drivers in road accidents is a well-established international phenomenon (OECD, 2006). European drivers aged 18-20 are greatly over-represented in car crashes, with those in the first twelve months of a licence being 2,7 times more likely to be involved in urban road tragedies, especially on Saturday nights. If we consider that Italian law currently allows 14-year-olds to drive mini-cars without even a licence or a driving test, it’s easy to understand why the death rate in Italy is above the European average (BBC News, 2004). In spite of a lack of research on whether pre-driver education can change psychological antecedents to driving behaviour (Poulter & McKenna, 2010), there is some good literature focused on the developmental difficulties when performing visual tasks in the presence of distracting sounds during adolescence (Hanauer & Brooks, 2003). Pre-adolescents show an auditory dominance over visual processing. The two mechanisms develop at very different rates, and the auditory mechanism is later superseded by the visual attention mechanism. The driving performance can be severely impaired because of the demands of cross-modality stimulation, especially in the first years of licence, when driving actions must become automatic. A better understanding of these constraints is becoming pivotal to promote safe driving. Young drivers find it difficult to divide their attention simultaneously between their eyes and ears. Thus aural distractibility might provide a key variable in the explanation of car accidents by novice drivers. In this light, in-vehicle music listening may actually be as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol. On the one hand, it’s possible to play the right music to help keep attention on the road. On the other, it’s equally possible to choose the wrong music, which compromises driving capacities (e.g., Dibben & Williamson, 2007). Oblad (2000) postulated the existence of an interactive relationship between driving and music, which was conceived early in one’s driving history during the mid-late teen-years. In particular, music genres with a pounding beat and dense musical characteristics may have a remarkable bearing on vehicular control (e.g., Prodigy’s Firestarter). Researchers recommend easy listening music to “follow” without having to think too hard about it (e.g., Pachelbel’s Canon in D). To date, the effects of the interaction between bimodal attention mechanisms and in-vehicle music listening on driving behavior have not been investigated. The hypothesis is straightforward: Some music cues are so distracting, that they may impair the performance in a visual task highly predictive of real driving performance, while other music cues may have an opposite, positive effect. To substantiate such theorizing, a sample of adolescents was asked to complete the GEFT-Group Embedded Figures Test (Witkin et al., 1971). This choice is not casual, since this test was used in many investigations of driving behaviour, demonstrating to be one of the clearest predictors of driving performance (Avolio et al., 1985).
1) Avolio, B.J., Kroeck, K.G., & Panek, P.E. (1985). Individual differences in information-processing ability as a predictor of motor vehicle accidents. Human Factors, 27(5), 577-587. 2) BBC News. (April, 2004) Italy fails on ‘no deaths’ road day. Available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/europe/3611087.stm. 3) Conners, C.K., Wells, K.C., Parker, J.D., Sitarenios, G., Diamond, J.M., & Powell, J.W. (1997). A new self-report scale for the assessment of adolescent psychopathology: factor structure, reliability, validity and diagnostic sensitivity. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 25(6), 487-497. 4) Dibben, N., & Williamson, V.J. (2007). An exploratory survey on in-vehicle music listening. Psychology of Music, 35(4), 571-589. 5) Hanauer, J.B., & Brooks, P.J. (2003). Developmental change in the cross-modal Stroop effect. Perception and Psychophysics, 65(3), 359-366. 6) Jester, C. (2000). Introduction to the DVC Learning Style Survey for College. Diablo Valley College, California. DVC online: http://www.metamath.com/lsweb/dvclearn.htm. 7) OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) (2006). Young drivers: The road to safety. Paris: OECD. 8) Oblad, C. (2000). On using music – about the car as a concert hall. In C. Woods, G. Luck, R. Brochard, F. Seddon & J.A. Sloboda (Eds.), Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition, 5-10 August, Keele, UK: Keele University. 9) Poulter, D.R., & McKenna, F.R. (2010). Evaluating the effectiveness of a road safety education intervention for pre-drivers: An application of the theory of planned behaviour. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(2), 163-181. 10) Witkin, H.A., Oltman, P.K., Raskin, E., & Karp, S.A. (1971). Group Embedded Figures Test. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.
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