Center for Injury Research and Prevention

Mind wandering behind the wheel: performance and oculomotor correlates.

TitleMind wandering behind the wheel: performance and oculomotor correlates.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsHe J, Becic E, Lee Y-C, McCarley JS
JournalHum Factors
Date Published2011 Feb
KeywordsAdult, Attention, Automobile Driving, Computer Simulation, Eye Movements, Female, Humans, Illinois, Male, Task Performance and Analysis, Young Adult

OBJECTIVE: An experiment studied the frequency and correlates of driver mind wandering.

BACKGROUND: Driver mind wandering is associated with risk for crash involvement. The present experiment examined the performance and attentional changes by which this effect might occur.

METHOD: Participants performed a car-following task in a high-fidelity driving simulator and were asked to report any time they caught themselves mind wandering. Vehicle control and eye movement data were recorded.

RESULTS: As compared with their attentive performance, participants showed few deficits in vehicle control while mind wandering but tended to focus visual attention narrowly on the road ahead.

CONCLUSION: Data suggest that mind wandering can engender a failure to monitor the environment while driving.

APPLICATION: Results identify behavioral correlates and potential risks of mind wandering that might enable efforts to detect and mitigate driver inattention.

Alternate JournalHum Factors
PubMed ID21469530