• MIT Research Aims to Reduce Distracted Driving Accidents
  • August 22, 2017
  • Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Age Lab, and the Michigan engineering firm of Touchstone Evaluations are taking a new approach to reducing the number of car accidents caused by distracted driving. The study, which is being funded by Denso, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Google, and Panasonic, aims to understand driver behavior that leads to distraction.

    Whether a driver is distracted by an incoming text message, an important phone call, or seeking directions from a navigation system, the few seconds required to take your eyes off the road could be a matter of life or death. Over 4,000 people reportedly suffered fatal injuries in car accidents last year, many of them attributed to one form or another of distracted driving. Electronics, particularly cell phone usage, have become the leading cause of distractions for those behind the wheel. Despite statistics on the dangers of distracted driving, the behavior continues.

    Understanding What Leads to Distracted Driving
    Researchers involved in the study are focused on understanding the aspects of the human mind that leads to distraction. While they realize that they cannot eliminate distraction entirely, they are using mathematical algorithms to explain what leads to distraction. In doing so, they hope to be able to provide automakers and engineers with a formula that will help them design features that promote attention to the road.

    Initial ideas include phones that hold off on a text alert when a turn signal on the car is engaged, or to disable the controls on an onboard entertainment system when windshield wipers are turned on for continued weather conditions. Adjustments for a driver’s age and health conditions that could lead to distraction will further enhance driver safety. The future will hopefully include onboard systems that work with the driver to limit distractions and increase attention to the road.

    While previous studies focused on what a driver was doing five to ten seconds before a crash, the new study will expand the time frame to 20 seconds. Researchers believe that a driver who looks down at their phone several times to complete or read a text message will quickly lose spatial awareness and be more likely to become involved in a collision.

    Researchers are hopeful that their results will improve driver attention, but caution that it will not be the solution to distracted driving. Drivers need to be educated and made aware of how their behaviors affect their ability to drive safely. Distractions lead to judgment errors, and the more aware people are to the danger of this type of behavior, the safer everyone will be on the road.

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    If you or someone you know has been injured by a distracted driver, the experienced team of car accident lawyers in Baltimore at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton can help you claim the justice and compensation you are entitled to under the law. Call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529), or contact us online to schedule a consultation today.

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