Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Distracted drivers: Your habits are to blame

Date:
June 3, 2013
Source:
Georgia Institute of Technology
Summary:
More than a decade of research has shown that using a handheld or hands-free phone while driving is not safe because the brain does not have enough mental capacity to safely perform both tasks at once.

Georgia Tech Assistant Professor Robert Rosenberger says your habits are the reason you can't focus on the road while talking or texting on a smartphone.
Credit: Georgia Tech

More than a decade of research has shown that using a handheld or hands-free phone while driving is not safe because the brain does not have enough mental capacity to safely perform both tasks at once.

Researchers have fallen short of explaining why drivers are so easily distracted until now. In two peer-reviewed academic journals, Georgia Tech Assistant Professor Robert Rosenberger explains that, because people talk on the phone on a regular basis, they have developed learned habits that take over their awareness, sometimes entirely.

"By habit, a driver's overall awareness is overtaken by the content of the phone conversation and not the demands of driving," said Rosenberger, a researcher in Georgia Tech's School of Public Policy. "It doesn't even matter if the person's intent to focus on driving is stronger than the willingness to talk on the phone. Sooner or later, the phone-associated habits will subtly tug the awareness away from the road."

Rosenberger's alternative interpretation of the scientists' data is built from a philosophical perspective called phenomenology, or the study of consciousness.

"When a person talks or texts on a phone, they go into a zone and everything around them seems to fall into the background of awareness," he adds. "For instance, you no longer hear the TV that you were watching seconds before the phone rang. Walls and adjacent objects seem to disappear. The only thing you concentrate on is the other person's voice." Because texting is a two-way conversation, Rosenberger says the same theory applies.

However, having a conversation with a passenger in the car is different. Studies show that driver distraction isn't as great because passengers are active participants in the driving experience.

"For instance, if two people are talking in a car and an ambulance approaches, they tend to stop speaking and look for the sirens," he says. "A person on the other end of the phone typically continues to speak because they aren't aware of the changing situation."

With new technology in the car dashboard becoming increasingly popular, Rosenberger is concerned that these features are giving drivers a false sense of security. Voice-controlled texting and dashboard apps are designed to keep a driver's hands and eyes away from a phone, but the greater risk of distraction remains, he says.

"People who see and use these new technologies may think, 'Now I don't have to look at my phone. And the technology is built right into the car, so it must be safe,'" he says. "But, just like state laws that prohibit handheld phone use and mandate hands-free use, they don't actually eliminate the distraction. In fact, one could argue that they encourage continued distractions."

Rosenberger insists that lawmakers should keep pace with regulating the use of this technology and society must be mindful as new legislation is created and implemented in order to address technological advances. He urges computer scientists and engineers to develop more options for drivers to preprogram different automated responses tailored to incoming calls, such as alerting callers that they're behind the wheel and unavailable.

"The smart choice for our own safety, and for the safety of pedestrians and other drivers, is to refrain from using communications technologies -- even hands-free alternatives - while behind the wheel," he stated. "My suggestion: Use your drive time to unplug from the digital world."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgia Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Georgia Institute of Technology. "Distracted drivers: Your habits are to blame." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130603113154.htm>.
Georgia Institute of Technology. (2013, June 3). Distracted drivers: Your habits are to blame. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130603113154.htm
Georgia Institute of Technology. "Distracted drivers: Your habits are to blame." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130603113154.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Virtual Reality Headsets Unveiled at Tokyo Game Show

Virtual Reality Headsets Unveiled at Tokyo Game Show

AFP (Sep. 18, 2014) Several companies unveiled virtual reality headsets at the Tokyo Game Show, Asia's largest digital entertainment exhibition. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stocks Hit All-Time High as Fed Holds Steady

Stocks Hit All-Time High as Fed Holds Steady

AP (Sep. 17, 2014) The Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that it plans to keep a key interest rate at a record low because a broad range of U.S. economic measures remain subpar. Stocks hit an all-time high on the news. (Sept. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
MIT's Robot Cheetah Unleashed — Can Now Run, Jump Freely

MIT's Robot Cheetah Unleashed — Can Now Run, Jump Freely

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) MIT developed a robot modeled after a cheetah. It can run up to speeds of 10 mph, though researchers estimate it will eventually reach 30 mph. 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