Date of Award

Fall 2009

Project Type


Program or Major

Electrical Engineering

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Andrew L Kun


Nowadays, personal navigation devices (PNDs) that provide GPS-based directions are widespread in vehicles. These devices typically display the real-time location of the vehicle on a map and play spoken prompts when drivers need to turn. While such devices are less distracting than paper directions, their graphical display may distract users from their primary task of driving. This thesis investigates the influence of two PNDs on driving performance and visual attention. In the experiments conducted with a high fidelity driving simulator, we found that drivers using a navigation system with a graphical display indeed spent less time looking at the road compared to those using a navigation system with spoken directions only. Furthermore, glancing at the display was correlated with higher variance in driving performance measures. We discuss the implications of these findings on PND design for vehicles.