• Mobile phone distracted driving is expressed as a human-machine system framework.
  • The impact of mobile phone distracted driving is measured by system outcomes.
  • Distracted drivers tend to compensate both for mobile phone and driving tasks.
  • Visual in-vehicle tasks have the largest implications for safety.
  • Environmental complexity moderates the behavioural adaptation to distraction.


The use of mobile phones while driving—one of the most common driver distractions—has been a significant research interest during the most recent decade. While there has been a considerable amount research and excellent reviews on how mobile phone distractions influence various aspects of driving performance, the mechanisms by which the interactions with mobile phone affect driver performance is relatively unexamined. As such, the aim of this study is to examine the mechanisms involved with mobile phone distractions such as conversing, texting, and reading and the driving task, and subsequent outcomes. A novel human-machine framework is proposed to isolate the components and various interactions associated with mobile phone distracted driving. The proposed framework specifies the impacts of mobile phone distraction as an inter-related system of outcomes such as speed selection, lane deviations and crashes; human-car controls such as steering control and brake pedal use and human-environment interactions such as visual scanning and navigation. Eleven literature-review/meta-analyses papers and 62 recent research articles from 2005 to 2015 are critically reviewed and synthesised following a systematic classification scheme derived from the human-machine system framework. The analysis shows that while many studies have attempted to measure system outcomes or driving performance, research on how drivers interactively manage in-vehicle secondary tasks and adapt their driving behaviour while distracted is scant. A systematic approach may bolster efforts to examine comprehensively the performance of distracted drivers and their impact over the transportation system by considering all system components and interactions of drivers with mobile phones and vehicles. The proposed human-machine framework not only contributes to the literature on mobile phone distraction and safety, but also assists in identifying the research needs and promising strategies for mitigating mobile phone-related safety issues. Technology based countermeasures that can provide real-time feedback or alerts to drivers based on eye/head movements in conjunction with vehicle dynamics should be an important research direction.