Assessment of police subjective workload and preference for using a voice-based interface during simulated driving
Police in-vehicle systems include a visual output mobile data terminal (MDT) with manual input via touch screen and keyboard. This study investigated the potential for voice-based input and output modalities for reducing subjective workload of police officers while driving. Nineteen experienced drivers of police vehicles (one female) from New South Wales (NSW) Police completed four simulated urban drives. Three drives included a concurrent secondary task: an imitation licence number search using an emulated MDT. Three different interface output-input modalities were examined: Visual-Manual, Visual-Voice, and Audio-Voice. Following each drive, participants rated their subjective workload using the NASA - Raw Task Load Index and completed questions on acceptability. A questionnaire on interface preferences was completed by participants at the end of their session. Engaging in secondary tasks while driving significantly increased subjective workload. The Visual-Manual interface resulted in higher time demand than either of the voice-based interfaces and greater physical demand than the Audio-Voice interface. The Visual-Voice and Audio-Voice interfaces were rated easier to use and more useful than the Visual-Manual interface, although not significantly different from each other. Findings largely echoed those deriving from the analysis of the objective driving performance data. It is acknowledged that under standard procedures, officers should not drive while performing tasks concurrently with certain in-vehicle policing systems; however, in practice this sometimes occurs. Taking action now to develop voice-based technology for police in-vehicle systems has potential to realise visions for potentially safer and more efficient vehicle-based police work.