The impact of navigation system display size and environmental illumination on young driver mental workload

Tamer Yared, Patrick Patterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Driver distraction is a major cause of road crashes and has a great influence on road safety. In vehicles, one of the common distracting sources is navigation systems (NSs). The navigation system (NS) can distract the driver due to following directions and reading the provided information through its display. These tasks take the driver's attention from the primary task of driving and may cause poor driving performance, increasing the risk of crashes. In this paper, the effect of the environment (i.e., urban areas and rural areas), the navigation system display (NSD) size, environmental illumination, and gender on young drivers between the ages of 18 and 29 years mental workload was investigated using a simulated driving experiment. To evaluate each driving condition, the NASA-TLX (NASA Task Load Index) workload assessment tool, and a distraction evaluation element, were introduced and used to assess the overall workload, the workload subscales and the distraction by the NSD. The assessment showed a higher perceived overall workload for urban areas and night driving as compared to a rural areas and daytime driving. Moreover, the results showed a greater perceived distraction by the NSD in urban areas compared to driving in rural areas. The subjects also felt distracted when using the small NS compared to using the large NS. The study concluded that urban areas driving, and night driving creates higher perceived workload than rural areas and daytime driving. Furthermore, small NSD leads to more perceived distraction than large NSD while driving. The NSD designers may utilize this research findings to optimize NSD designs to improve driving safety, performance and comfort. Moreover, this study contributes to our understanding of the effect of the NSD size on driving workload and distraction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-344
Number of pages15
JournalTransportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Driver distraction
  • Navigation system
  • Navigation system display size
  • Night driving
  • Workload


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