Evaluating Driver Distraction Factors in Urban Motorways. A Naturalistic Study Conducted in Attica Tollway, Greece

Over the last years, distracted driving possesses a leading position among accident causes and it constitutes an increasing road safety problem with disastrous results. Considering external factors of distraction as highly significant, they can be grouped in four categories: built roadway, situational entities, natural environment, and built environment. The fourth category, related to civil infrastructure and commercial land use, combined with high vehicle speeds that occur in motorways, might contribute to the creation of a very dangerous environment, increasing driver distraction and inattention. Through accurate research, solid results can emerge and traffic safety can be enhanced. The present study deals with driver distraction caused by out-of-the-vehicle factors, as well as factors related to the driver, such as age, gender, driving experience etc. It covers the distraction of driver attention during driving due to external factors that are not related to the main task of driving, resulting in impairments to driver attention and decision-making ability and hence the driver’s overall performance. For this purpose, the authors assess the side effects of numerous road elements, such as information signs, roadside advertising, Variable Message Signs, toll buildings, noise barriers/panels etc. to driver attention. The study is based on a medium-scale experimental procedure which took place in Attica Tollway, the Ring Road of the Athens metropolitan area, which was part of a larger research project conducted by the University of Thessaly, Department of Civil Engineering that included a total of three urban freeways in Greece. In order to create the appropriate research basis and to use as reliable data as possible, the gaze tracker FaceLab software was used on a sample of 29 drivers. Each participant drove 51 km on Attica Tollway, both in level terrain with 3 lanes and speed limit up to 120 km/h and in rolling terrain with 2 lanes and speed limit up to 80 km/h. The distraction of driver attention is evaluated via a continuous recording of his/her gaze, which acts as the main indicator regarding driver performance. The results of this procedure, analyzed via Captive software, are focused on the time that the driver’s gaze remained on each of the road elements under research. The analysis offers conclusions on different aspects - driver, road element and the road in total - comparing and categorizing the results by using a 4-level timescale from 0 to 2 seconds. This study can be used as a tool that can help in understanding and limiting the use of roadside elements that are not related to the execution of the driving task, but that may serve as potential causes of distraction. The results of this type of research procedures are very useful in preventing the forthcoming pressure for more billboards and trademarks on the roads, as well as in encouraging the adaptation of more precise regulations relating to the road infrastructure, the placement of roadside elements, etc.


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  • Accession Number: 01606157
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 15 2016 9:53AM