Mind wandering during everyday driving: An on-road study

This study was an investigation into mind wandering during everyday driving, and its association with crash patterns. The authors selected a 25 km route on urban roads for analysis of crashes, and an on-road study of mind wandering by a sample of drivers familiar with the route. They analysed reported crashes on the route over a five year period from New Zealand's crash database. For the on-road study a researcher accompanied 25 drivers on the route, asking them what they were thinking about at 15 predetermined road sections. The road sections were selected to include a range of different speed limits and traffic volumes as well as roundabouts, priority intersections and midblocks. Thought samples were categorised as either mind wandering or driving focus, and triggered by the senses, or internally. The frequencies of mind wandering at different road sections on the route were compared to the frequencies of reported crashes along the same route over the preceding five years. Results showed that although all drivers reported mind wandering, it was more likely to be reported at slower, quieter, less complex road sections. Overall, more crashes were reported at priority intersections and midblocks than at roundabouts, but the crash rate (per road section) was higher at roundabouts, where mind wandering was least likely to be reported. These findings suggest that although drivers' minds wander constantly, driving focus is commanded in demanding situations and in response to the actions of other road users. While mind wandering is ubiquitous, drivers are least likely to report mind wandering at locations showing the highest crash rates. More work is needed to test these findings and to provide direction for road safety interventions.


  • English

Media Info

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01685980
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Oct 13 2018 3:04PM