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Redmond, WA 98052



Effective Management of Driver Attention

Driving Simulator Driver attention is a valuable commodity in maintaining driving safety. However, with the proliferation of many interactive devices that place demands on the driver's attention while driving, effectively allocating attention with the primary goal of managing driving safety presents substantial challenges.

Our research investigates new techniques for proactive mediation of driver attention. We focus on ensuring that driving safety is maintained at all costs by directing the
driver's attention towards upcoming events in the driving  scene if the driver is engaged in other peripheral tasks such as cell phone conversation or manipulating in-vehicle system controls.

As a first step in this project, we have investigated how the cognitive load imposed by conversing simultaneously during driving affects both driving performance and the conversation. Using a medium fidelity driving simulator, we looked at different types of conversation involving information assimilation, retrieval and generation while driving on routes composed of segments of varying levels of difficulty. The goal was to determine moments during driving where the driver attention could be effectively shared between driving and the secondary task of conversation could be allowed without negatively impacting driving, as well as understand moments where such sharing would present attentional challenges. Read details of this work here.

We have also investigated the effects of proactive mediation to direct the driver's attention towards critical driving conditions if the driver's attention is being shared by a secondary task such as cell phone conversations. We have looked at the effects of both long and short messages as well as forced suspension of conversations on the driving performance, conversation and how the mediation is perceived by the driver and the remote caller. Further details are available here.

We are looking towards developing and deploying systems that intelligently detect environmental conditions, infer driver's cognitive load and determine if, when and how to best intervene.


Shamsi T. Iqbal
Eric Horvitz
Y.C. Ju


Iqbal, S.T., E. Horvitz, Y.C. Ju and E. Mathews. Hang on a Sec! Effects of Proactive Mediation of Phone Conversations while Driving. Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors for Computing Systems (CHI), 2011, Vancouver, BC, to appear. (Acceptance Rate: 400/1540; 26%). **Honorable Mention Award*
Iqbal, S.T., Y.C. Ju and E. Horvitz. Cars, Calls and Cognition: Investigating Driving and Divided Attention. Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors for Computing Systems (CHI), 2010, Atlanta, GA, pg 1281-1290. (Acceptance Rate: 297 / 1346; 22%)