Impact of Smart Phones' Interaction Modality on Driving Performance for Conventional and Autonomous Vehicles

This project will investigate how different modes of interaction of drivers with a smart phone (i.e., manual texting vs. voice usage) affect driver’s distraction and performance in both conventional and semi-autonomous vehicles. Quality of execution of maneuvers as well as timing and tracking of eye/gaze focus areas will be assessed in this study.

The research will compare two different modes of interaction between drivers and smart phones: touch-based commands vs. audio/vocal commands. The goal is to quantify potential improvements in drivers’ performance in executing specific maneuvers and to quantify potential reduction of distraction (quantified through timing of eye gaze away from the road). The study will be executed in an integrated car simulation environment, with a driver-in-the-loop setting. A population of 40 individuals will be tested in both conventional and semi-autonomous simulated vehicles. Results from the research are expected to provide solid guidelines for future regulations in the realm of smart phones usage and human-machine interfaces for both conventional vehicles as well as semi-autonomous vehicles. Should voice commands result in an overall improvement of drivers’ performance, some States may relax their regulations that ban use of personal devices. Vice versa, should such improvement not be registered, careful revisions of the allowed activities while at the wheel of semi-autonomous vehicles would need to be crafted.


Mineta Consortium for Transportation Mobility
San José State University

Principal Investigator: 

Francesca Favaro, Ph.D.

PI Contact Information: 

Mineta Transportation Institute
San José State University
210 N. 4th St., 4th Floor
San Jose, CA 95112

Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization): 

U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology – $73, 816 

Total Project Cost: 


Agency ID or Contract Number: 



September 2018 to November 2019

Project Number: