Exploring the sustained and divided attention of novice versus experienced drivers

Louise Kerruish, Andy S.K. Cheng, Kin Hung Ting, Karen P.Y. Liu (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Purpose of the research: Driving is a complex task that requires appropriate engagement in, and regulation of, sustained attention and divided attention. This study explored the sustained- and divided-attention function of novice young adult drivers and experienced adult drivers. Methods: Fifteen novice young adult drivers (mean age = 20.07) and 18 experienced adult drivers (mean age = 41.33) participated in the study. The participants’ sustained and divided attention were assessed using a computerised fixed Sustained Attention-to-Response Task (SART) and a modified version with low cognitive-load and high cognitive-load conditions. Their attention was also assessed using the Color Trails Test (CTT) and Digit Span Test (DST). The participants’ cognitive resources that were available during the assessments were monitored using the Rating Scale Mental Effort (RSME). Results: The main results of this study showed that the experienced drivers had significantly higher performance in terms of accuracy in both sustained attention (p = 0.011) and divided attention (p = 0.008 and 0.006 in low and high cognitive-load conditions, respectively) components of the SART. No significant differences in the CTT and DST were found between the two groups. The results of the RSME also indicated that both groups had comparable cognitive resources available throughout the assessments. Conclusions: This study suggests that experienced adult drivers have a higher developed ability to engage in and maintain sustained and divided attention appropriately. These results provide insight related to attention function, which might affect novice young adult drivers compared with experienced drivers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100702
JournalTransportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Divided attention
  • Experienced driver
  • Novice driver
  • Sustained attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Urban Studies
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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