Driver distraction refers to a specific type of inattention that occurs when drivers divert their attention away from the driving task to focus on another activity. It is still one of the main causes for accidents on today’s roads. In our research we have developed and successively advanced a methodological approach that allows us to investigate driver distraction in a real car on a test track (HMI Test Package).

By combining expert based methods (e.g., heuristic evaluation) with user based approaches, which include capturing of the driver’s eye movement behavior but also his/her subjective impressions, we are able to gather a holistic picture of how the use of in-car systems or mobile phones during driving affects driver distraction.

So far, we applied our approach in three studies, in which we compared upper class and compact class vehicles with regard to driver’s distraction when interacting with the in-vehicle infotainment systems (IVIS), e.g., by entering a navigation destination or making a phone call. These studies were conducted on the test track of our industrial partner, the R&D-service provider AUDIO MOBIL, within our activities in the Christian Doppler Laboratory (CDL) Contextual Interfaces. We found that in most cases the driver’s distraction is significantly too high when interacting with IVIS. On average, the driver’s gaze is away from the forward road-scene in up to 50% of the total task time. (TV clip on the risks of distracted driving, showing our setup)

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