When you drive, how much of a distraction is talking on a cell phone, eating or fiddling with the radio? Researchers are trying to find out by scanning the brain during those situations.
Researchers at the Wayne State School of Medicine in Detroit, Mich., are working to determine if there is a physiological basis for driver distraction using MRIs or magnetic resonance imaging. The MRI allows medical professionals to scan the brain in real time, examining what parts of the brain are actually engaged and working during a safety situation.
The research will examine the effect of a variety of external influences on driving, such as sleep deprivation, caffeine and alcohol. The research will also observe various types of drivers, including different age groups, different driving experiences and those that have had accidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that 25 percent of the 6.3 million crashes reported by police each year involve some form of driver distraction. The groundbreaking research will be used to help reduce the risk of driver distraction and to enhance vehicle technology and safety.