How distracted is your driving? A new $1.3 million simulation lab can tell

| October 16, 2013

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(Photo: Kevin Fitzsimons/The Ohio State University)

Researchers at The Ohio State University (OSU) are trying to figure out how much eating, entertainment and navigation systems in cars distract drivers, and the university’s new $1.3 million Driving Simulation Laboratory could help.

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(Photo: Kevin Fitzsimons/The Ohio State University)

This new 5,800-square-foot research facility is a partnership between Ohio State, Honda R&D Americas, Inc., and the Ohio Supercomputer Center.

The new $1.3 million Ohio State University Driving Simulation Laboratory will be the most technologically-sophisticated lab of its kind in Ohio and will help researchers learn more about distracted drivers and how to prevent distractions.

Scientists will be able to monitor peoples’ heart rate, eye movement and stress levels while in a realistic driving environment, explains Jan Weisenberger, senior associate vice president for research at The Ohio State University.

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(Photo: Kevin Fitzsimons/The Ohio State University)

The lab is designed “to offer a visually immersive and realistic driving experience that will allow researchers to study how people actually react and behave behind the wheel,” Weisenberger says.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to announce new guidelines this fall with the intent of ensuring that drivers don’t get too distracted by entertainment and navigation systems in cars, according to the university.

For car manufacturers, testing these systems in a driving simulator is required to ensure compliance with the new guidelines, OSU reports.

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