Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Distracted drivers think of themselves as good drivers, research suggests

Date:
May 10, 2012
Source:
Wichita State University
Summary:
Researchers are studying drivers who multitask behind the wheel, especially drivers who try to text or call while driving. The study found evidence that texting while driving increases the chance of a crash by as much as 23 times. That compares to being four times as likely to crash while talking on the phone.

Of all the dangers on the road, drivers are what you have to watch out for the most. Alex Chaparro, director of Wichita State University's psychology department, studies drivers who multitask behind the wheel, especially drivers who try to text or call while driving.

"When you ask people to rate how good they are at driving and the kind of risks they pose, they often have very positive assessments," said Chaparro. "They believe that they're good drivers."

"But what we see when we look at participants in our experiments is that their driving is affected. What people believe in terms of their capabilities isn't reflected in the data."

Chaparro has researched drivers' behavior since 1998.

"Some tasks may be more distracting than others," Chaparro said. "For example, there's evidence that listening to a book on tape doesn't seem to interfere much with driving."

Driving interference

One of the experiments Chaparro conducted was reading a set of letters to each participant while driving. Some only had to repeat the letters back in the order they received them, and that didn't seem to affect their driving.

"But when you asked drivers to alphabetize their set of letters it has a big impact on their driving," he said. "Thinking about generating a response is perhaps the main source of interference in driving."

Chaparro said when you're thinking about generating a response, you're not thinking about what's going on in the road ahead.

Most recently he has been directing his research at texting while driving.

"We did an initial study looking at texting versus talking, and we found that texting was a lot worse," he said. "On virtually every measure we found that drivers who were texting were significantly worse than drivers who were just talking on the phone."

When you're texting, Chaparro said, you have the cognitive demands of talking. But now, you also have to physically interact with a device using small buttons that require visual confirmation.

Chaparro cited a study done at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University that used video cameras in vehicles to record drivers' behavior on the road. The study attempted to correlate crashes and near misses with the drivers' behavior.

The study found evidence that texting while driving increases the chance of a crash by as much as 23 times. That compares to being four times as likely to crash while talking on the phone.

Timely research

With Kansas' new laws against texting while driving, Chaparro's research has become more timely than ever.

"I think the law highlights the difficulties faced by both the police and drivers when it has to be enforced," he said.

Kansas law now allows law enforcement officers to stop motorists for "sending, receiving or reading text messages or emails on their wireless devices."

"First, it appears that many drivers are not aware of the law and that it covers not only the typing of a text message but also the act of reading a text message," Chaparro said. "A public education program may be needed to raise awareness and educate drivers."

"Second, enforcement poses a challenge because it is not always clear from a short glance whether the driver was texting, using the phone to check the time or to turn off an alarm. Would all of these cases be treated as if the person was texting? Is dialing a telephone number any less risky than texting 'got 2 go'?"

Even though some people are naturally better at multitasking than others, that doesn't mean that they are immune from the risk, he said.

"When people are engaged in these tasks, even when they're good at them, those tasks still place a burden on the driving performance," Chaparro said.

This can be demonstrated without even getting in a car.

"We've been walking since about age 1. It's the most practiced motor task that we engage in. Yet walking is affected by the simple task of listening for two tones and responding to just one of them," he said.

We're not nearly as practiced at driving as we are at walking.

Chaparro said that we shouldn't be surprised that using a mobile device behind the wheel impacts driving performance.

"Anything that distracts drivers is a risk. Looking at accident statistics, you find that driver distraction is the most common cause of mishaps," Chaparro said. "Anything in a car that serves as a source of distraction in a car is problematic."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wichita State University. The original article was written by Gordon Murray. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wichita State University. "Distracted drivers think of themselves as good drivers, research suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120510095812.htm>.
Wichita State University. (2012, May 10). Distracted drivers think of themselves as good drivers, research suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120510095812.htm
Wichita State University. "Distracted drivers think of themselves as good drivers, research suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120510095812.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: SpaceX Rocket Carries 3-D Printer to Space

Raw: SpaceX Rocket Carries 3-D Printer to Space

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) — A SpaceX Rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, carrying a custom-built 3-D printer into space. NASA envisions astronauts one day using the printer to make their own spare parts. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) — Accompanied by drumbeats, wearing costumes and carrying signs, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and other cities around the world on Sunday to urge policy makers to take action on climate change. (Sept. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
What This MIT Sensor Could Mean For The Future Of Robotics

What This MIT Sensor Could Mean For The Future Of Robotics

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) — MIT researchers developed a light-based sensor that gives robots 100 times the sensitivity of a human finger, allowing for "unprecedented dexterity." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The MIT BioSuit could be an alternative to big, bulky traditional spacesuits, but the concept needs some work. 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:
from the past week

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