In the early 1990s, no one thought they could lose focus while driving. But then, mobile phones became popular, followed by smartphones. Using these devices while driving is putting yourself and the person behind behind at a very high risk of accidents.
The automotive industry certainly recognizes that problem. Therefore, most new models today have hands-free conversation features. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink are applications developed to allow certain applications to be transferred from smartphones to car entertainment screens.
Even safer, the latest cars are also fully equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), which will alert you to potential collisions or when the vehicle is drifting off the lane. the road is running.
Unfortunately, none of these technologies seem to make a difference.
What distracts you when driving: Eyes or brain?
Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology think they need to reconsider the nature of the problem: What is causing the driver to lose focus. Does their brain have to handle too many tasks at once: looking at the dashboard, entertainment screen, phone, map … make them drive unsafe?
Not! It turns out that the vision and the position the driver looks at is the main determinant of their reaction time and concentration. If a driver always looks ahead, he will drive safer than looking down at an angle of 20 degrees.
That's why you might prefer cars with higher center screens and closer to eye level. In relative terms, the Mazda 3 was then a better choice than the Tesla Model 3.
What do you see or what you think in your head distracts you?
To test whether the eyes or brain are responsible for our distraction while driving, scientists led by Dr. Benjamin Wolfe at MIT designed a series of experiments as follows:
They show volunteers video clips from the perspective of a car driving around Boston. The screens are located in the exact same location as the driver sees on the road.
For the first test, each participant was asked to look at different parts of the screen – looking straight ahead, crossing 30 degrees to either side or 20 degrees down to the center.
While keeping the vision in the required positions, they were asked if the brake lights on the car in the front lane were bright. Volunteers responded by pressing the button "way"on the keyboard.
In a second series of experiments, participants were again asked if they saw brake lights in the front lane, but it was a bit more complicated. This time, they were asked to keep an eye on a green cross displayed overlapping different parts of the screen.
In some tests, they have to answer whether one of the cross or vertical tiles turns white, if any tiles turn white, they must press the arrow button corresponding to that tile on the table. instant keys.
In other tests, they still have to keep track of whether a cross or vertical of the crossover turns white, but this time, the participant only needs to press the button from the second time on.
These experimental designs allow Dr. Wolfe and colleagues to test the immediate response and late reaction of the driver in each situation.
Now is the time to expect results. If you think the main problem that distracts drivers is the volume of cognitive tasks they have to handle (for example, when they are just driving, they must look at the speedometer and look at the center console). then responding to a message or phone call), we hope to see participants perform better on the first and worse test in the highest cognitive load tests (slow response late for changes of green cross).
However, that did not happen. The position the participants were asked to put their vision on was the main factor affecting the accuracy of the brake light detection; It is also a major factor affecting the reaction time. Participants took the best test when they looked at the center of the path and worst when they looked down at the center of the screen.
To make sure this finding is correct, the researchers conducted a third series of tests on a whole new set of participants. The main task is to detect brake lights in the front lane again, while looking at specific areas of the screen.
But this time there's another more complicated side task: determine if an illusion image overlaps the screen that is rotating clockwise or counterclockwise. The experiment is also divided into 2 parts to check for immediate response or late reaction.
Our peripheral vision is very bad
Once again, the main factor determining whether participants discovered the front brake light and the time they responded was the vision of the participants.
The best result they get is when looking at the center of the screen and the worst results when looking down to 20 degrees. The effect of increasing cognitive load on the response time is only modest.
Looking away from your center position may slow down the driver's reaction time to 458 milliseconds. While increasing cognitive load, that means making them do many things at the same time only slows the reaction time by 35 milliseconds.
"We don't say it doesn't matter if you use your phone to do anything. But to differentiate between the effect you have on the phone and the fact that you have to take your eyes off the road to look at the phone, we have proven that taking your eyes off the road is actually a bigger problem"Dr. Wolfe said.
"If you are looking down at the phone while driving, you can still know the presence of other cars around. But you will probably not be able to distinguish the car in your lane or the car in the other lane. "
So, keeping an eye on the road ahead is still a legendary advice for all drivers. But people often ignore that advice, which means we definitely need alternative technology solutions.
Future cars may be subject to eye tracking or face recognition to warn drivers in case they do not look directly at the road ahead.
This study is undoubtedly a strong evidence for car display design, which helps the driver look forward instead of looking down. For example, you can think of the screen of the Mazda 3, instead of the Tesla Model 3.
The closer the monitor is to the driver's vision, the better, even if that means you can't use the touch feature.
In fact, we should probably avoid looking at the infotainment screen as much as possible, using the voice command teeth in cars, an industry trend that has caught up with the times.
In addition, to make driving safer, future vehicles may be subject to surveillance systems including eye tracking or face recognition, to alert drivers in schools. if they don't look straight ahead.