Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Industrial and Managements Systems Engineering

Committee Chair

Kevin Rider


With 233 million cell phone subscribers in the United States at the end of the year 2006, and 73% of those subscribers talking on their cell phones while driving, the issue of safety on the roads has become a major one. While there has been widespread research on the causes of driver distraction, and comparisons among those causes, there has not been research conducted in order to evaluate the effects of visual imagery on driver performance. This research employed two types of programs to examine the response time to the presented stimuli, as well as missed targets among 16 subjects. For each program, subjects completed six tasks (Baseline, Mental Arithmetic, Directions, Synonyms, In Person Conversation, Cell Phone Conversation). In the stimulus-response program, subjects were asked to press certain keys on a keyboard, corresponding to the stimuli presented on the screen (The six trials in this program included simple response of space bar upon stimulus; selecting a, s, d, or f; selecting a, s, d, f, j, or k; selecting a, s, d, f, j, k, l, or ";"; selecting a, s, d, or f with "a" 75% more likely; selecting a, d, j, or k incompatible). In the driving video program, subjects were asked to press "r" or "w" when a red or white/silver car as soon as they perceived a car of that color to be approaching in the opposite lane. Upon analysis of the stimulus-response program, it was found that Task and Trial Type were significant, with three of the tasks (cell phone conversation, in-person conversation, and synonyms) were highly significantly different from the directions and mental arithmetic tasks. Upon analysis of the driving video program, it was found that Task was a significant factor for missed targets. In conclusion, it was found that tasks involving mental imagery were significantly different than tasks requiring simple communication.