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If Attention Were The Key To Driving

Craig McClellan

In the modern world, there are many things vying for our attention. For people behind the wheel, losing focus and becoming distracted can have terrible, even fatal consequences. Part of the problem is the speed and ease with which our attention can be drawn away from any task, even one as important as driving. It only takes a moment for our attention to wander. When a person takes his or her eyes off the road, what seems like a moment can involve hundreds of feet of dangerous driving. Australian researchers have developed a car that ties the accelerator to the attention of the driver. To keep the car moving, the driver cannot succumb to distraction.

While impractical on the roads, an attention-powered vehicle could help demonstrate to people just how frequently they take their focus off the road. The tests of the vehicle involved attaching volunteer drivers with equipment to monitor their brain activity, blink rate, head movement and other factors. The volunteers were given simple tasks such as reading a map or checking their phones to complete while driving. They were asked to drive at a specific speed and attempt to complete the tasks. Each time they took their attention off the road, the accelerator would stop working and the car would slow.

According to a press release from the designers of the car, they are hoping to highlight "the impact of how quickly we can lose concentration, causing lives to be lost, and leaving families and friends to deal with the consequences of road trauma." It has been suggested that the rise of screen-based entertainment is causing people to lose the ability to concentrate. While distraction is not a new thing, the avenues through which we lose focus have changed enormously in recent years. An attention-powered car just might help some people realize the importance of finding the ability to concentrate while behind the wheel.

Source: Fast Coexist, " This Anti-Distracted Driving Car Automatically Slows Down When The Driver Isn't Focused," by Ben Schiller, 9 October 2013