New gadgets continue to distract drivers

By: Lily Wu - Email
By: Lily Wu - Email

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WICHITA, Kan.-- Research is underway at Wichita State University to test how new technological advancements like Google Glass influence driving performance.

"According to existing literature, both Google Glass and Android phone will impair driving performance," said Dr. Jibo He of the WSU Psychology Dept. "But it is likely that Google Glass is less distracting compared to a smart phone, if people use it less frequently."

Dr. He runs the Human Automation Interaction Lab at the university. He is one of three people in Wichita testing Google Glass, a pair of glasses that perform tasks such as take photos, make calls, and send text messages.

He is currently working on research that focuses on whether Google Glass or an Android device is less distracting to driving performance.

"Multitasking will impair the driving performance. I think driving safety is more important than instant communication with friends," said Dr. He.

One of his research assistants, Jake Ellis, was reading a book to simulate reading text messages from the Google Glass while driving in a simulator. Even though he did not look down, he said it still impaired his driving.

"I would get too close to cars when I'd be following them and make decisions that would be a little dangerous in real life," said Ellis. "I think people really overestimate their ability to multitask. You can really only attend to one thing at a time."

Dr. He said any cognitive tasks that move the driver's attention from the road can impair driving, including tasks like talking to passengers and texting and driving.

"Text later after your drive because your driving performance and your texting performance will be both impaired," said Dr. He.

Dr. He's research on Google Glass will be published early next year.

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