Our Cars Are Getting Better; Our Driving Is Getting Worse

Our Cars Are Getting Better; Our Driving Is Getting Worse

AgeLab Research Scientist Bobbie Seppelt's research is featured in an article in The Zebra:

One of the worst culprits in distracted driving is multitasking. MIT research scientist Bobbie Seppelt is part of one of the longest-running studies of driver attention. Beginning in 2015, Seppelt and her colleagues outfitted a set of Teslas, Volvos, and Range Rovers with cameras that tracked the driver’s head, eye, and body movements to better understand what might lead to a crash.

Seppelt also found that safe driving technology seems to affect people in two different ways. One group explored the limits of the safety systems, including taking their hands away from the wheel for extended periods. A second group stopped using the driver assistance technology altogether. They distrusted the software so much that they, in essence, declined to take advantage of those safety features.“We’re quite busy when we drive,” said Seppelt, who has seen countless scenes of eating, drinking, grooming, button-pushing and more from drivers who knew they were being filmed. “It’s about 40-60 percent of the time that we’re doing something in addition to operating the vehicle."

So what can we do to conquer our lousy behavior behind the wheel? Both Seppelt and Casner agree that education is our best bet. Just as we’ve managed to make recycling cool and smoking not cool, we need public service messages and emotional videos that help us upgrade the way we think about what’s risky and what’s safe in a modern world filled with distracting gadgets and fast cars.

Read the full story here.