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Faezeh Mohammadi Sanjani, Abbas Bahram, Moslem Bahmani, Mina Arvin and John van der Kamp

It has been shown that texting degrades driving performance, but the extent to which this is mediated by the driver’s age and postural stability has not been addressed. Hence, the present study examined the effects of texting, sitting surface stability, and balance training in young and older adults’ driving performance. Fifteen young (mean age = 24.3 years) and 13 older (mean age = 62.8 years) participants were tested in a driving simulator with and without texting on a smartphone and while sitting on a stable or unstable surface (i.e., a plastic wobble board), before and after a 30-min sitting balance training. Analyses of variance showed that texting deteriorated driving performance but irrespective of sitting surface stability. Balance training decreased the negative effects of texting on driving, especially in older adults. Perceived workload increased when drivers were texting, and balance training reduced perceived workload. Perceived workload was higher while sitting on the unstable surface, but less so after balance training. Path analyses showed that the effects on driving performance and perceived workload were (indirectly) associated with changes in postural stability (i.e., postural sway). The study confirms that texting threatens safe driving performance by challenging postural stability, especially in older adults. The study also suggests that it is important to further investigate the role balance training can play in reducing these negative effects of texting.