And johnson 2000 close call stories as the topic of

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and Johnson (2000), close-call stories as the topic of the conver- sation were used in studying the impact of conversations on driving. Bavelas et al. defined close-call stories as stories about times when your life was threatened. The advantage of using such close-call conversations is that they involve the kinds of stories that are often told among friends and produce a conversation that is engaging. In addition, unlike in other studies in which at least one of the partners of the conversation was a confederate, we asked participants to bring friends with the intention of having them converse about previously untold close-call stories. Few authors have studied how passenger conversations affect driv- ing performance. In their on road study, Crundall et al. (2005) pro- vided initial evidence that passenger and driver responded to changes in the cognitive demand of driving when playing a “competitive [word] game between driver and the partner” (Crundall et al., 2005, p. 201) that simulated a conversation. For example, passenger conversations were suppressed during more demanding urban driving and there was no impact of the driving context on the conversation during cell phone conversations. It appears as if the cell phone task imposed a cognitive load independent of the cognitive demand resulting from the driving conditions, making it likely that the driver’s cognitive limits were exceeded. Gugerty et al. (2004) investigated the impact of passenger conversations on driving performance in a low-fidelity driving simulator. To simulate a conversation the authors used a word game task in which the participants took turns saying words with the constraint that a new word had to begin with the last letter of the word spoken by the partner. Gugerty et al. tested driving performance by assessing the driver’s situation awareness for the surrounding traffic but also measured performance on the verbal task. Overall there was no evidence that passengers slowed the verbal task more than remotely communicating participants, and in Experiment 1 the opposite effect was found, despite the fact that only the passengers shared visual information about the driving conditions. Also, the verbal interaction negatively affected situa- tion awareness in both the passenger and the cell phone condition, equally impacting a precursor for strategic performance. More interesting, Amado and Ulupinar (2005) reported a neg- ative impact of passenger conversation on a driving surrogate: The authors compared the impact of a hands-free cell phone conver- sation, a passenger conversation, and a control condition on atten- tion in a peripheral detection task that simulated driving. To simulate the cognitive demand of a conversation, the authors asked participants questions of low or high complexity. Both simulated conversation conditions had a similar negative impact on perfor- mance in a peripheral detection task as compared to the control condition. The lack of a difference between the cell phone con-

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