Enabling Multitasking by Designing for Situation Awareness within the Vehicle Environment

In the driving environment, competition exists between Driving Related Activities (DRAs) and Non-Driving Related Activities (NDRAs). This is a source of inattention and human error. Continual proliferation of in-vehicle information systems (IVIS) presents drivers with opportunities for distraction. Drivers simultaneously manage DRAs alongside unrelated but cognitively demanding NDRAs. Vehicle designers need ways of understanding human capability in such situations to provide solutions that accommodate these conflicting demands. This paper proposes a framework intended to address such challenges, rooted in the widely accepted construct of Situation Awareness (SA). However, SA theory does not presently accommodate disparate unrelated goal-driven tasks performed in parallel. This framework reconciles the present reality of drivers simultaneously devoting cognitive resources to attain SA for multiple activities by proposing a separate body of knowledge for each active goal. Additionally, the process of achieving SA is expanded to incorporate this concurrent development of separate bodies of goal-directed knowledge. The advantage of reconceptualising SA for driving allows consideration of interface design which minimises the impact of competing activities. The aim is a framework facilitating creation of IVIS that help drivers succeed in multi-goal multitasking situations. Implications of the proposed framework for theory, design, and industry-driven automotive safety efforts are discussed.

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