Re: They missed an obvious distracting task to measure...
Have they measured distractions inflicted from outside? Distractions inflicted on a driver without the driver actually causing this distraction or giving his or her explicit consent to be distracted?
When you drive along a road, you will be exposed to a lot of random, useless information. This information needs to be filtered out from the information that is useful for safe driving.
Your overall input signal consists of useful data, interference, and noise. Filtering a known interference from the signal is generally easier than filtering out noise and random spikes.
I conclude that it's easier to ignore that I'm holding a cigarette than seeing a road sign that tells me not just that the road ahead is now closed, but also that the roadworks are likely to continue for 17 weeks from the 4th of April, that the contractor doing the work on behalf of an agency working with the highways maintenance authority can be reached under 0800 555 123 467 8 or firstname.lastname@example.org and is profoundly sorry for any inconvenience that the work might cause you.
The same goes for little pegs on the side of the road with soggy A4 sheets of paper stuck on them informing me that the PuddleDuck nursery crèche is having an open day on Saturday, 15th June from 9:45am to 1:15pm.
And am I really that concerned about TRACY being 45 TODAY!!! that it needs to be posted on a bedsheet fluttering across the road?
Has anyone ever done any research into involuntary distractions? I think they would find that these have a far greater impact that voluntary distractions.
If I hold a cigarette while driving, then I know it's there, it's of no consequence to the traffic and I can ignore it.
While I can't endorse the use of a mobile whilst driving because it's not legal, the same applies for this mobile use: I know about it, it's traffic-irrelevant, I can ignore it.
I can apply a steep-flanked filter to these distractions because I initiated them myself. In my opinion they are a minor factor compared to the general information noise that gets thrown at you.
Any research links, anyone?
P.S.: Did you notice the missing 't' in 'webmailhostingservice'? It was irrelevant, you ignored it.
P.P.S.: My current favourite useless sign is stuck 15m high on a camera pole on the M3. It says "camera not in use". Just why this information is so relevant that I need to be distracted from the traffic around me to look up beats me.