Thursday, July 23, 2009

Can Driving and Texting Coexist?

In the July 18, 2009 online edition of The New York Times, there is an interesting example of the use of a simulation game to illustrate the impact of texting on a driver’s ability to drive safety and react to changing road conditions. Upon completion of the game, the player is provided with a quantification of his driving performance with and without the distraction presented by receiving and sending text messages.

I thought this would be interesting to nuclear safety management practitioners for several reasons. First, it is another illustration of how simulation games can provide realistic experiences of situations they may have to manage in real life - without the risks associated with the real life activity.

Second, this game demonstrates the impact of competing priorities (texting and driving) on the ability of the driver to maintain performance at a consistent level. In the nuclear operations world, safety management failures are often associated with the impact of competing priorities or pressures on the ability of personnel to perform reliably. The driving game suggests that there is always some diminution of performance due to the competing priority of texting. Is that true of nuclear safety management or is it possible, with sufficient training and practice, to manage competing priorities?

Link to article.

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