Attention and distraction
Driver distraction, or road user attention as we prefer to call it, is a complex and context dependent issue full of nuances; Does the navigation system make you look away from the road? More or less so as compared to a paper map? Should mobile phones be banned while driving? What if the conversation keeps you alert enough to make it to the next rest area? And how do you adapt your behaviour when you choose to call a friend, as compared to when your phone suddently starts to ring? And what about cyclists with headphones? Can they compensate for the reduced capability to hear the surrounding traffic?
VTI conducts research regarding different aspects of attention and distraction for different types of road users like car and truck drivers, as well as bicyclists. We investigate how behaviour is changed and influenced under distraction, and which compensatory mechanisms road users employ to be able to drive or cycle and at the same time do something else. When discussing countermeasures we are interested in the user's point of view, and in the way humans function – in which way can we help the driver or cyclist to do what they want to, without compromising traffic safety?
For this research to be carried out in a smooth and meaningful manner, good theoretical knowledge, scientifically sound methodology and usable frameworks are necessary.
VTI owns high-end eye trackers that can be used both in the simulator and in the field in motor vehicles and on bicycles, which enables us to conduct studies with real-time distraction detection.
It is an important mission for us to understand human behaviour, and to investigate the potential of a fruitful cooperation of humans and technology, with the goal to make the transport system both safe and user-friendly.