Driver performance ‘adversely effected’ by rowing

12.00 | 15 October 2012 | | 4 comments

‘Contentious conversations’ between couples have an adverse effect on driver performance, according to a study by researchers from Heriot-Watt University.

In the study, ‘Couples, contentious conversations, mobile telephone use and driving’, 20 ‘romantically involved’ couples participated in a driving-simulator experience while engaging in emotionally difficult conversations.

The partners discussed sources of ongoing disagreement in their relationship in conversations either using a hands-free telephone or with both parties present.

Driver performance was found to be adversely effected in terms of vehicle control. Performance was worst during contentious conversations with the partner present, suggesting that drivers may be better able to regulate driving task demands with the partner not in the vehicle during difficult discussions.

The research team, headed by Dr Terry Lansdown, is now carrying out a survey looking at distracting behaviours for drivers. They hope that by providing insight into what people are currently doing, sensible countermeasures can be identified.

Click here to purchase the ‘contentious conversations’ report, or click here to take part in the distractions survey, which includes a prize draw for a £100 Amazon gift voucher. For more information contact Dr Lansdown on 0131 451 8246.


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    Oops! Am I the only one to miss-read the title? I thought it was about propelling boats by oars. Sir Steve Redgrave can rest easy.

    Martin, Suffolk
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    All the more reason to use your own mirrors to be aware of the drivers attitude/awareness in the vehicle behind you.

    Don Harris. Bexhill
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    Quite right Idris. Did it really need a research project to ‘discover’ this?

    Yet another causation factor for STATS 19 to include: “Romantically involved couple having contentious conversation in vehicle”!

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    How much did this research work cost to find out what we already knew?

    Idris Francis Petersfield
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