The driving simulator at Leeds University. Credit: University of Leeds
Drivers are four times more likely to have an accident if they use a mobile phone on the road. However, using a "talking windscreen" rather than a traditional mobile phone while driving could reduce this risk, and so help to prevent accidents, according to Oxford University research just published in Psychological Science.
A growing body of evidence shows that using a hands-free phone is as problematic for drivers as using a hand-held phone. It is probably the distraction of a driver´s attention, rather than problems with physically handling a phone, that contributes to the increased accident risk. Indeed, "inattention" has often been cited as one of the leading causes of accidents in numerous major studies of traffic accidents. Therefore anything that can improve a driver’’s concentration while using a mobile phone should help to reduce the risk of accident.
Dr Charles Spence of Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology and Dr Liliana Read from the Department of Transport in London found that the physical location from which a person’’s voice is heard influences a driver?s concentration. In particular, participants in their experiments found it easier to divide their attention between eye and ear if the relevant sources of information came from the same direction.
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