Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Study Shows For First Time How Thinking Can Impair Driving

Date:
March 27, 2000
Source:
American Psychological Association
Summary:
Keeping your eyes on the road is obvious advice to drivers. Now, new research published in the March issue of the American Psychological Association's (APA) Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, has demonstrated that keeping one's mind on the road is important as well.

High percentage of car accidents due to inattention rather than lack of driving ability

Related Articles


WASHINGTON -- Keeping your eyes on the road is obvious advice to drivers. Now, new research published in the March issue of the American Psychological Association's (APA) Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, has demonstrated that keeping one's mind on the road is important as well.

While research has tried to demonstrate the potential danger of external distractions (looking at road signs or a map while driving), previous studies have not focused on internal distractions such as one's thoughts. In their study, psychologists M.A. Recarte, Ph.D., and L.M. Nunes, Ph.D., of the Universidad Complutense, in Madrid, Spain, examined whether a driver's eye movements would be affected by additional verbal and visual tasks to the point where the driver's ability to pay attention to his or her surroundings is sacrificed.

Twelve drivers between the ages of 21 and 37 drove 43 km on two highways and 40.6 km on two secondary roads (a total of 83.6 km). Their eye movements were recorded while they performed verbal and spatial-visual tasks. On each route they performed two verbal tasks (repeating words starting with a certain letter) and two spatial-imagery tasks (imagining the letters of the alphabet, one by one, from A to Z and describing the letters as far as which letters were "open" or "closed").

Pupil size and amount of time spent viewing a particular object were used as indicators of how much visual attention was directed at a particular object. The researchers also measured how often each driver checked his or her side and rear mirrors and the speedometer on the dashboard.

The authors found that during spatial-imagery tasks, drivers fixated on certain points longer and, therefore, glanced at their mirrors and dashboard less. The driver's attention was affected more by the spatial-imagery tasks than by the verbal tasks. "It seems that during the visual tasks, a person's eye freezes up, and the eye's visual inspection window decreases, which impairs perception of the environment, " said Dr. Recarte.

"When a person's visual inspection window is reduced," said Dr. Recarte, "peripheral visual capacity can be affected. Mirror use to evaluate the surrounding traffic can also be diminished, and this can make it more difficult to detect changes in traffic."

"The potential hazard of using a cellular phone is one thing," said Dr. Nunes. "But add in-depth conversation that requires a considerable amount of mental effort, like recalling a route on a map, performing a mathematical computation or discussing an emotional charged subject, and you compound an already risky behavior."

"Our research shows for the first time that doing mental calculations while driving," said the authors, "may make some people pay less attention to the road ahead and put themselves more at risk for an accident. On the other hand, some secondary activity (listening to music) can have beneficial effects. Drivers need to know how much they can do or think while driving and know when to stop the activity to concentrate on the road."

"With our research," said Dr. Nunes, "we are trying to help people know a little more about themselves to give them the opportunity to learn better criteria to decide how much they want to use their minds while driving."

###

Article: "Effects of Verbal and Spatial-Imagery Tasks on Eye Fixations While Driving," M.A. Recarte, Ph.D., and L.M. Nunes, Ph.D., Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, Vol. 6, No.1.

(Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office or at http://www.apa.org/journals/xap.html )


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Psychological Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Psychological Association. "New Study Shows For First Time How Thinking Can Impair Driving." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 March 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/03/000327084020.htm>.
American Psychological Association. (2000, March 27). New Study Shows For First Time How Thinking Can Impair Driving. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/03/000327084020.htm
American Psychological Association. "New Study Shows For First Time How Thinking Can Impair Driving." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/03/000327084020.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins