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Sonia Ortiz-Peregrina, Carolina Ortiz, Carlos Salas, Miriam Casares-Lopez, Rosario G Anera; Effects of age-related visual changes on distracted driving by WhatsApp. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018;59(9):5190.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Distracted driving is the main cause of accidents, with the use of the Smartphone, and specifically apps such as WhatsApp being one of the main distractions for drivers. Therefore, the aim of this work was to determine the effect of texting WhatsApp messages on drivers of different ages while at the wheel. Furthermore, due to the importance of vision in driving, the visual function of all of the drivers was evaluated and the correlation with driving-performance variables was analyzed.
A total of 75 drivers were divided into four age categories: 20 younger (18-24 years), 20 adults (25-39 years), 20 middle-age adults (40-54 years) and 15 older (>55 years). Driving performance was tested with a driving simulator under a baseline driving condition (without distraction) as well as a texting condition (WhatsApp messages) while driving. Visual function was also evaluated in all the drivers.
Driving performance was adversely affected by the distracted condition. The use of the smartphone diminished the ability to maintain a consistent lane position. Standard Deviation of Lateral Position (SDLP) significantly increased for all groups except for adults. Consequently, in the distracted condition, drivers also exhibited a higher number of lane excursions and longer distances travelled invading the opposite lane. The age group most affected was older drivers, as they invaded the opposite lane a higher number of times (37.07 ± 11.60) than the average of the drivers (24.69 ± 11.50). The negative effect of using the smartphone during driving proved evident, as this increased the number of collisions in all groups (by 8.3% for younger, 25.0% for adults, 80.5% for middle-aged adults, and 134.5% for older).Finally, our results reflected that some visual functions are correlated with driving performance. Thus, the decrease in contrast sensitivity and the increase in retinal straylight were significantly correlated with a higher number of collisions, a larger distance driven outside the lane, and less lateral control of the vehicle.
Texting WhatsApp messages while driving significantly impairs driving performance, with older drivers being the group most adversely affected. Contrast sensitivity and retinal straylight have been demonstrated to be good predictors of driving performance, so that they could be included in visual examinations for driving license.
This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2018 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, April 29 - May 3, 2018.
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