All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Despina Stavrinos

Advisory Committee Members

Karlene Ball

Karen Heaton

David Vance

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


Driving is a complex task requiring constant information processing made possible by attention. Because there are 5.7 million commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers in the United States, it is imperative to investigate factors affecting driving performance as well as methods to reduce motor vehicle collisions (MVCs) with the primary goal of eliminating transportation-related unintentional fatal and nonfatal injuries. Vigilance is a cognitive processing component that may play an important role in CMV driving safety. Two experiments were conducted to examine the effect of vigilance on simulated driving performance in varying conditions. Experiment 1 focused specifically on the effect of vigilance on CMV driving in general, and while distracted in particular. Fifty CMV drivers completed a 10 minute vigilance task (the Psychomotor Vigilance Task [PVT]) and drove in a CMV driving simulator for 4 drives while presented with 1 of 4 possible secondary tasks (no secondary task, cell phone conversation, text messaging interaction, and on-board emailing device interaction). Generalized estimating equations (GEE) and mixed models indicated marginal evidence that PVT mean reaction time is predictive of CMV driving performance. CMV driving experience also had a strong effect on CMV driving performance. Experiment 2 considered the differential impact of secondary tasks on visual attention in CMV driving performance, as different tasks have been associated with different effects on visual attention towards the roadway in previous work. Findings causally linked secondary tasks to visual attention, in turn affecting CMV driving performance. The mediating effect of visual attention significantly differed among different levels of vigilance. Given the unique demands of CMV driving, namely long driving distances and travel time, the ability to maintain attention during a sustained task (vigilance) requires further investigation as it applies to information processing in the context of CMV driving. Future research should assess vigilance over time in CMV drivers and examine how vigilance develops with CMV driving experience.



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