The Effects of mind wandering on simulated driving performance

Dündar, Ceyda
The significant amount of traffic crashes is caused by driver distraction. Studies showed that secondary tasks, which lead to driver distraction, are one of the important reasons for traffic crashes. Additionally, mental distraction, such as mind wandering, may be more dangerous than secondary task distractions. The current study mainly focuses on the effect of mind wandering on driving performance. A novel approach, pre-post probe approach, is developed to assess the mind-wandering episodes of drivers. Additionally, the influence of both sensation seeking and rumination on driving performance during mind-wandering episodes is studied. Participants followed a lead vehicle in a simulated driving environment. Headway distance and velocity data of the participants were recorded to compare driving performance under mind-wandering and on-task episodes. The probe-caught and pre-post probe approaches were used to assess mind-wandering and on-task episodes of the drivers. Probe-caught approach did not yield any significant differences between mind-wandering and on-task episodes in terms of headway distance and velocity. However, increased velocity and decreased headway distance were observed during mind-wandering episodes using pre-post probe approach. Additionally, high sensation seekers decreased their velocity whereas low sensation seekers increased their velocity during mind-wandering episodes. There were not any differences between high and low ruminative people on the driving performance. The findings, put together, indicated that mind wandering affects driving performance.


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Citation Formats
C. Dündar, “The Effects of mind wandering on simulated driving performance,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2015.