Young driver distraction by text messaging: A comparison of the effects of reading and typing text messages in Chinese versus English

Wei Yan, S. C. Wong, Y. C. Li, Nang Ngai Sze, Xuedong Yan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Background Reading and typing text messages while driving seriously impairs driving performance and are prohibited activities in many jurisdictions. Hong Kong is a bilingual society and many people write in both Chinese and English. As the input methods for text messaging in Chinese and English are considerably different, this study used a driving simulator approach to compare the effects of reading and typing Chinese and English text messages on driving performance. Method The driving performances of 26 participants were monitored under the following conditions: (1) no distraction, (2) reading and typing Chinese text messages, and (3) reading and typing English text messages. The following measures of driving performance were collected under all of the conditions: reaction time (RT), driving lane undulation (DLU), driving speed fluctuation (DSF), and car-following distance (CFD) between test and leading cars. Results RT, DLU, and DSF were significantly impaired by reading and typing both Chinese and English text messages. Moreover, typing text messages distracted drivers more than reading them. Although the Chinese text messaging input system is more complicated than the English system, the use of Chinese did not cause a significantly different degree of distraction. Conclusion Both reading and typing text messages while driving should be prohibited regardless of whether Chinese or English is used.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-98
Number of pages12
JournalTransportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Driving distraction
  • Driving simulator
  • Text messaging
  • Traffic safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Applied Psychology

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