'Electronic Eye' Helps Distracted Drivers

SEATTLE, Aug. 16 (UPI) — An “in-car coach” — an electronic eye tracker used to monitor the driver’s gaze — helps avert accidents due to distracted driving, a U.S. researcher says.

Study co-author Linda Ng Boyle of the University of Washington in Seattle says some “high-risk” young drivers have a greater propensity to become distracted while driving. However, those who drove the worst seemed to benefit most from an in-car coach and changed their behavior the most dramatically.

“Our research shows that these high-risk drivers might not be thrill seeking or aggressive — maybe they’re just not aware of what the risks are,” Boyle says in a statement. “By providing continual feedback, drivers may be more likely to learn from their mistakes and put their eyes back on the road.”

Boyle and colleagues used an eye tracker to monitor 53 subjects ages 18-21 as they operated a driving simulator, cruising a two-lane highway with oncoming traffic and given a financial incentive to simultaneously perform simple matching tasks on a screen beside the steering wheel — a distraction at about the level of scanning a playlist on an mp3 player.

The study, published in the Journal of Transportation Engineering, finds providing young drivers feedback on their driving via the electronic coach helped high-risk drivers more than double their time until a virtual crash.

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Categorized | Engineering, Other, Transportation
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