Auditory alerts and driving: Susceptibility to audio during (automated) driving

Remo Mattheus Arnoldus van der Heiden

Research output: ThesisDoctoral thesis 1 (Research UU / Graduation UU)


This thesis investigated susceptibility of the human brain to auditory signals under different (driving) conditions and the ability of humans to act on alerts in specific contexts In Part I, three experiments were conducted to answer the main question: “How susceptible are humans to auditory stimuli?” To answer this question, we measured electroencephalogram (EEG) Event-Related Potential (ERP) responses in an oddball paradigm in (automated) driving tasks and cognitive load inducing tasks. The main finding was that automated driving and cognitive load inducing tasks can both reduce susceptibility to auditory alerts. Given this observation that auditory susceptibility is sometimes reduced and, more generally, to explore ways to support accurate human behavior while driving, in Part II, we explored interventions that might alleviate the associated potential problems. In the first experiment, we introduced early warnings, or pre-alerts, to allow drivers to anticipate a later acute imperative alert for an upcoming transition of control from the car to the human driver. The results showed that pre-alerts can support safer transitions of control. In the second experiment, we tested an intervention where visual in-car warnings were presented to indicate an upcoming, necessary lane change. Results showed that, on average, drivers were able to change lanes in time. However, at the same time, there are occasionally some drivers that did not respond in a timely manner.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Utrecht University
  • Kenemans, Leon, Primary supervisor
  • Janssen, Chris, Co-supervisor
  • Donker, Stella, Co-supervisor
Award date5 Jun 2020
Place of PublicationUtrecht
Print ISBNs978-90-393-7287-6
Electronic ISBNs978-90-393-7287-6
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2020


  • Automated driving
  • Autonomous cars
  • Auditory susceptibility
  • Driving simulator
  • EEG
  • fP3
  • P300
  • Pre-alerts


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