Driving a car is not always exciting. During a driver’s typical commute, it can be easy for their mind to wander. A recent study from George Mason University found that drivers’ minds wander from the task of driving during up to 70 percent of the time.
The study did not assert that mind wandering while driving is as dangerous as other forms of distracted driving, like text messaging. Its goal was to measure how frequently drivers’ minds wander and whether this could be considered a driving hazard on par with other distractions.
Measuring How Drivers’ Minds Wander
Nine participants volunteered for the study, which was conducted over the course of five days. The study had the participants complete 20-minute driving simulations that had them drive along a straight, repetitive highway at a consistent speed. Between sessions, the drivers completed Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART) assessments. These written tests simulated mentally demanding office work that could deplete executive resources and potentially impair drivers’ performances.
During each simulated driving session, the participants’ brain activities were measured with electroencephalograms, which identified electrical patterns in the brain associated with the mind wandering from its primary task. The participants were also instructed to respond to random buzzers throughout their drives by reporting whether their minds had been wandering when the buzzer sounded and if so, if they had been conscious of the mental drifting. Seventy percent of the time, drivers reported that their minds had been wandering. Approximately 65 percent of the time, they reported that they were aware that their minds had been wandering.
An Inattentive Driver is Similar to a Distracted Driver
The researchers found that the drivers’ minds were more likely to wander during their driving simulations after completing the SART, or during their “commute home from work.”
The brain patterns recorded in the drivers were associated with reduced receptiveness to external stimuli, which can mean that a wandering mind can impact an individual’s ability to drive safely. Although it did not clearly link mind wandering to an increased likelihood of being involved in an accident, the researchers stated that this area needs more research in order to determine if such a link exists.
Delaware County Car Accident Lawyers at McCann & Wall, LLC Represent Victims Injured by Distracted Drivers
If you have been injured in a collision with an inattentive driver, you could be entitled to recover monetary compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. To learn more, fill out our online form or call 215-515-2236 or 302-304-8047 to schedule your initial consultation with an experienced Delaware County car accident lawyer at McCann & Wall, LLC. We are located in Philadelphia and work with clients from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.