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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

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Interaction as distraction in driving: A body of evidence

1University of Oulu

Citation Information: . Volume 2012, Issue 191, Pages 169–196, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2012-0060, September 2012

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This paper examines social interaction as a source of distraction in driving. It uses naturally occurring data, an in-car video recording of driver and passengers during an ordinary real-life journey. The paper shows in close detail how moment-to-moment the embodied and locally occasioned participation in interaction can impact specific activities for driving such as looking and orienting forwards to the road ahead and maintaining hand contact with the steering wheel. Distraction is evidenced as configurations of the body, especially for gaze direction, postural orientation, and hand movement, which serve interaction and do not contribute to driving. The paper examines what interaction as distraction actually looks like in practice, in the rich and meaningful details of drivers' and passengers' complex and temporally unfolding joint experience of real-life real-time car journeys. It explores generally the semiotic resources by which drivers make sense of and organize the demands of interaction and driving as simultaneous and competing activities. These resources include language and the sequentiality of interaction, the position and movement of the body in space, the particular material features and constraints of the car (i.e., seating arrangements, the rear-view mirror), and objects brought into the car such as a mobile phone.

Keywords: conversation analysis; cars; distraction; driving; ethnomethodology; interaction; multimodality

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