• Driving Speed Influenced by a Wandering Mind
  • October 14, 2017
  • Driving a car, truck, or any other motor vehicle always requires focus and attention. Whether you are driving through a quiet residential area or on a busy interstate highway, there are always things that require your full concentration, including maintaining the proper speed limit. According to recent research, when a driver’s mind wanders, it can cause greater fluctuations in driving speed, and that the outside environment is directly related to how often a driver’s mind wanders.

    Researchers from North Carolina State University conducted an experiment that studied the effect of outside environmental factors on drivers’ concentration levels and the impact they had on speed fluctuations. According to Michal Geden, Ph.D. candidate and lead author of the paper, mind wandering is affected by perceptual load, which is the amount of information in the environment that the driver needs to process. For example, driving through a rural, sparsely-populated area requires a lower perceptual load than navigating through congested city streets.

    The experiment involved 40 drivers, all of whom used a driving simulator. Drivers reported that their mind wandered 50 percent of the time when perceptual load conditions were low, compared to 41 percent of the time during high perceptual load conditions. Researchers found that there was a connection between mind wandering and increased fluctuations in speed, which can have serious safety implications.

    A Form of Distracted Driving

    It is common knowledge that talking and texting while driving are examples of external distractions that can take a driver’s attention away from the road. According to Jing Feng, Assistant Professor of Psychology at NC State, and corresponding author of the paper, more research needs to be done about the dangers of allowing one’s mind to wander when operating a motor vehicle. As self-driving car technologies continue to develop and progress, it is likely that there will be an increase in mind wandering. When a driver is not required to be fully engaged in the process of operating the vehicle, from controlling speed to avoiding potential accidents, the driver is more likely to become bored. As a result, their mind is more likely to wander and focus on other things instead of the road.

    Feng went on to say, as technology continues to take over more driving tasks, we should develop a greater understanding of how that will impact vehicle safety, and ultimately the safety of all motorists. This is one of the first studies to explore this issue, but more research is necessary to bring attention to this form of distracted driving.

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    If you have been seriously injured in a car accident involving another driver whose attention was distracted from the road, it is in your best interest to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. Our legal team will determine the exact cause of the accident and hold the negligent parties responsible for their actions. We will seek the maximum financial compensation you deserve, protecting your rights every step of the way. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

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