An exploratory real-world wayfinding experiment: A comparison of drivers’ spatial learning with a paper map vs. turn-by-turn audiovisual route guidance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Turn-by-turn (TBT) route guidance technology installed on mobile phones is very popular among car drivers for wayfinding purposes. Previous studies examined their effect on spatial knowledge predominantly on pedestrians or in virtual environments. Drivers' spatial knowledge was experimentally compared in two random groups: audiovisual route guidance using the TBT navigation feature of the Google Maps app installed on a mobile phone, and a paper map. Participants drove their own vehicles to a predesignated destination in an unfamiliar residential neighborhood. Spatial knowledge tests (orientation, landmark recognition and route recognition) were subsequently administered. The scores of map-assisted drivers were uncorrelated and, on average, higher in orientation (deviation in direction), landmark recognition and route recognition (error percentage). The landmark recognition scores of drivers assisted by TBT route guidance were significantly lower with a very large effect size. The route recognition scores of drivers assisted by route guidance showed strong correlations with orientation and with landmark recognition scores. Results can be attributed to the differences in cognitive effort required to complete the wayfinding task: unlike memorizing a global map survey, passively following TBT audiovisual instructions does not require drivers to actively encode, transform, and continuously monitor their egocentric position in space. Drivers also showed somewhat poorer performance relative to studies with pedestrians which can be explained by the greater mental effort, compared to wandering on foot, involved in wayfinding while safely driving a rapidly moving vehicle. The future implications of the increasing dependence on mobile navigation technologies are further discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100280
JournalTransportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Volume9
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Driving
  • Navigation
  • Paper map
  • Route guidance
  • Spatial learning
  • Wayfinding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Management Science and Operations Research

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