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Cognitive distractions and their relationship with the driver

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  1. 1. Cognitive Distractions and their Relationship with the Driver Presented by: Oscar W. Williamson ICDBT Helsinki 2013
  2. 2. Presentation structure  Introduction of problem  In-car distraction • Understanding the term driver distraction • The new era of technology • Drivers’ attitudes to distracting activities • How the mind processes in-car distractions  Conclusions
  3. 3. Introduction of problem  Driving whilst distracted kills! • Implications for friends and family; • But also for society as a whole.  Casualty rate likely to inflate. But what are cognitive distractions, and how do they impair drivers?
  4. 4. In-car distraction
  5. 5. Understanding the term driver distraction (i)  Everyone knows what it means to hoover the carpet, but why the big debate about a simple definition? Lets keep it simple:  Driver impairment due to: a competing distractor = driver distraction; a lack of, or no attention = driver inattention.  Consequently, a fully attentive driver could have his/her attention taken from them, despite their best intentions. Do not confuse this with driver inattention!
  6. 6. Understanding the term driver distraction (ii)  If the Yerkes-Dodson rule was applied to the driver inattention-distraction relationship, a stimulus based relationship is found with performance.  However, what if the relationship between driver inattention and driver distractiondid not act on a single plane? (Reimer, 2012) Suggests that stimulus, represents three stages of distraction None, Passive and Cognitive. Attempts to pigeonhole cognitive demand would be subjective at best!
  7. 7. Understanding the term driver distraction (iii)  A lack of task concentration (inattention) could make you more susceptibleto a competing force!  Driver distraction and driver inattention may work together on multiple planes, to culminate into driver impairment. These distractors may normally have been able to dismiss!  Therefore, mitigation measures must be balanced!
  8. 8. The new era of technology (i) (Moore, 1965)  It is vital to know how we have become so dependent on technology.
  9. 9. The new era of technology (ii)  In-car technology: • Integrated: Car systems, entertainment, navigation etc. • Nomadic: Phone, mp3, navigation etc.  Nowadays ‘smart’ mobile phones can do it all, but as a result are more vision orientated. Though visual glances of >2 sec can double the risk of collision.
  10. 10.  Market desire = Low-cost × multi-purpose equipment ∴ Distraction potential × Prevalence = In-car distraction impairment  These new cognitively demanding forms of secondary task, significantly compound upon other pre-existing contributors of driver impairment. The new era of technology (iii) (ITU, 2011: 2) (CSU, 2011: 4) Northern Ireland
  11. 11. The new era of technology (iv)  EU and USA produced voluntary guidelines to mitigate this risk: • EU: European Statement of Principles on the Design of Human Machine Interface. • USA: Visual-Manual NHTSA Driver Distraction Guidelines for In-Vehicle Electronic Devices. Problem mitigation or the appearance of problem mitigation?  The manufacturers solution is to assist (ADAS) drivers control their vehicles; and they have found successes.  However, the successes of ADAS may mask the underdevelopment of critical driving skills, or driver responsibility and self regulation. And what happens when or if the ADAS fails?
  12. 12. Drivers’ attitudes to distracting activities (i)  Despite the extra potential to be distracted, drivers are bound by law to drive with due care and attention: ‘Motor vehicles (construction and use) regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999’  And with respect of in-car distraction: Reg 120: Driver must have proper control (1999) Reg 125: Television receiving equipment banned, with exceptions (1999) Reg 125A: The use of handheld mobile phones (2003, amendment)  Enforced with: ‘Road traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1995’: Articles 10, 12 and 58  However, despite strong experimental evidence and contrary to government advice, exclusions are made.
  13. 13. Drivers’ attitudes to distracting activities (ii)  Observational studies have demonstrated that during a finite time period, a significant number of drivers are distracted due to secondary tasks.  These distractions are not exclusively technological. Passenger/children interactions remain the highest contributors to in-car distractions.  However, the effect of the new cognitively demanding devices will compound upon all existing forms of distraction.  Consequently, it is important to know how motorists have been managing their exposure with these new forms of distraction.
  14. 14. Drivers’ attitudes to distracting activities (iii)  If drivers could self regulate their involvement with technology, the aforementioned saturation and complexity would be a mute point  Test-track studies have found that drivers either are unable, or do not want to self-regulate their participation with secondary tasks!  This inability to self regulate has been corroborated: Motorists were found to be three times more likely to talk on the phone when they were moving, than when they were stationary.  And of course, younger drivers were found to be the most likely to participate with these activities whilst driving.
  15. 15. Drivers’ attitudes to distracting activities (iv)  The result of this inability to self-regulate has been depicted through several surveys, where: • Nearly two thirds of motorists adjust entertainment/GPS settings during a journey (63%); • Despite the illegality, over a quarter use a handheld phone whilst driving (27%); • And more than a quarter SMS text whilst driving (27%), with the prevalence doubling for young drivers (53%).  The next stage of distraction potential is ‘app’ based, and now there are 8,753,197 connected app users (3,456,442 Facebook), and: • A quarter of young drivers access the Facebook app when driving (24%); • A fifth of young drivers access other apps when driving (20%).
  16. 16. How the mind processes in-car distractions (i)  Previous MSc project at University of Ulster found that the lane change was the best measure of distraction effect.  New ISO 26022:2010 Lane change test requires participants to make directed lane changes, and produces a mdev to quantify task demand. (ISO, 2010: 5) (ISO, 2010: 12)
  17. 17. How the mind processes in-car distractions (ii)  HASTE partner observed a negative correlation of driver impairment due to incremental increases in auditory and visual forms of distraction.  This is an obvious paradox, which could mislead policymakers. (Jamson & Merat, 2005: 91)
  18. 18. How the mind processes in-car distractions (iii)  Time sharing of visual fixations with the distractor was said to contribute to this poor visual task performance.  However, both auditory and visual tasks were observed to narrow participants visual fixations.  This indicates that the seemingly benign effect of auditory distractions, may mask more serious implications for road safety. (Victor, Harbluk & Engström, 2005: 176)
  19. 19. How the mind processes in-car distractions (iv) “Once a motor vehicle begins to move, collision (or veering off the roadway) is not a matter of some refined estimate of a very low probability: it is inevitable” (Fuller, 2005: 462).  Unless a driver has control! “task difficulty is inversely proportional to the difference between task demand and driver capability” (Fuller, 2005: 463).  Mental resources are finite. (Fuller, 2005: 465) Task-Control Interface model
  20. 20. How the mind processes in-car distractions (v)  Despite common preconceptions, humans cannot multitask cognitively demanding processes: This is an illusion created by time process management.  Humans process cognitive tasks in the following order (Dzubak, 2007): • Select the information the brain will attend to; • Process the information; • Encode, a stage that creates memory; • Store the information; • Retrieve stored information; • Execute or act on the information.  If there is cognitive task overlap, data will be lost during the encoding stage!
  21. 21. How the mind processes in-car distractions (vi)  Whilst two cognitive tasks cannot be performed simultaneously, a learned task can be performed in parallel with a cognitive task.  This is the main reason experienced drivers are better at avoiding collisions than novice drivers.  This extra cognitive processing power can be misused, to perform secondary tasks (Bellet et al., 2009: 1208)
  22. 22. How the mind processes in-car distractions (vii) Auditory (cognitive) Visual (cognitive) Primary task processing Automatic level (Implicit awareness) Attentional level (Explicit awareness) Secondary task processing Attentional level (Explicit awareness) Attentional level (Explicit awareness) Primary task performance Good (available resources optimised) Poor (unable to use automatic control, due to visual time sharing) Peripheral detection performance Poor (narrowed vision due to reduced resources) Poor (narrowed vision due to reduced resources) Critical decision making Impaired Impaired
  23. 23. How the mind processes in-car distractions (viii)  The final piece of the cognitive processing puzzle is time.  It has been observed that process error can increase threefold over the course of just 30 minutes.  This indicates that drivers are more task focused in the early stages of a journey, rather than the latter: Then driver inattention may reduce a drivers’ resilience to competing forces. (Van Orden, Jung & Makeig, 2000: 226)
  24. 24. Conclusions  Driver distraction can only be caused by compelling distractors; and mitigation strategies must primarily exclude the cognitively impairing variants, whilst optimising other passive forms of stimulus.  New app based smart phones provide the highest degree of threat to driver impairment, due to their complexity and market appeal.  Drivers are unable/unwilling to prioritise their secondary task participation; therefore, non-voluntary mitigation strategies are required.  In-car distraction resilience is relative to the number of distraction types, severity of exposure and time-on-task, resulting in: impaired critical thought processes, restricted peripheral vision and/or impaired automatic car control.
  25. 25. If it is illegal to drive without a seat belt, why is it legal to perform any secondary task whilst driving? One life lost, is one too many!