Driver's Exposure to Distractions in Their Natural Driving Environment

This article reports on the second phase of a research project that examined driver distraction and how it contributes to traffic crashes. Unobtrusive video camera units were installed in the vehicles of 70 volunteer drivers over one-week time periods to study drivers’ exposure to distractions. The video data were coded based on a detailed taxonomy of driver distractions along with important contextual variables and driving performance measures. Results of this study revealed that distractions appear to be a common component of daily driving. The most common distractions were eating and drinking (including preparations to eat or drink), distractions inside the vehicle (such as reaching or looking for an object, manipulating vehicle controls, etc.), and distractions outside the vehicle. Further results indicate that distractions were frequently associated with decreased driving performance. These were measured by higher levels of no hands on the steering wheel, eyes directed inside rather than outside the vehicle, and lane wanderings or encroachments. This study provides some of the first naturalistic data on drivers’ exposure to distracting events that have been shown to be related to traffic crashes. Naturalistic driving studies, such as this one, can complement the more controlled laboratory and field studies to enhance our understanding of the effects of all types of distractions on driving safety.


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  • Accession Number: 01014850
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI
  • Created Date: Dec 6 2005 10:25PM