New research shows drivers may be less focused on the road than they think

Saint John, NB – New research demonstrates that just because drivers have their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road they may still be distracted.

An intensive research project underwritten by CAA partner, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, found that cognitive distraction is real. In other words, activities ranging from listening to the radio to engaging with text-to-audio software distract the brain from focusing on the road, even if physically drivers are doing what they should.

The research, released this week, was conducted by a team at the University of Utah. They used medical technology and driving simulators to measure what actually happens inside the brain while drivers were asked to perform a range of tasks such as listening to an audio book. Research findings showed that reaction times are slowed, brain function is compromised and motorists often miss potential environmental cues such as stop signs, pedestrians or other cars while engaged in mentally distracting tasks. 

“This research shows the old advice is still the best – focus on driving in the car, and leave other tasks for the side of the road or once you reach your destination,” said Gary Howard, Vice President Communications for CAA. “We look forward to seeing the results of the next stages as we consider the implications of these important findings.”

Phase Two of the research will attempt an in-depth ranking of the danger level of the various mental tasks people do in cars, using the same ground-breaking way of measuring and comparing different types of distraction.


About CAA

CAA is a federation of nine clubs providing more than 5.8 million members with exceptional emergency roadside service, complete automotive and travel services, member savings and comprehensive insurance services. CAA also advocates on issues of concern to its members, including road safety, the environment, mobility, infrastructure and consumer protection.


For more information contact:

Gary Howard
Vice President Communications
Phone: (506) 649-6288; 1-800-471-1611
Fax: (506) 649-6890

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