December 3, 2015

About the Presentation

It is well known that distraction is increasingly a problem inside the cabin of the automobile, especially among teens. Studies using an eye tracker at the Arbella Insurance Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, both on a driving simulator and in the field, show exactly why distraction is such a problem for teens. But they also show that distraction is a problem for experienced middle-aged drivers and for older drivers as well—something that is less well understood. Having documented that distraction is a problem, the next question is whether anything can be done about it. The answer is yes.

Typical solutions include engineering, education, and enforcement. This presentation highlighted work at UMassAmherst that has focused on the development and evaluation of training programs that are designed to improve the hazard anticipation, hazard mitigation, and attention maintenance skills that are most compromised by distraction.  An hour’s worth of training has been shown to have benefits that last up to a year for teens and two years for older drivers. The training programs have been implemented by regional and national insurance companies, including Arbella Insurance in Massachusetts and State Farm Insurance in Illinois.

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About the Speaker

Donald L. Fisher

Donald L. Fisher is the head of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, as well the director of the Arbella Insurance Human Performance Laboratory in the College of Engineering. Over the past 15 years, Fisher has made fundamental contributions to the understanding of driving, including the identification of factors that increase the crash risk of novice and older drivers; impact the effectiveness of signs, signals, and pavement markings; improve the interface to in-vehicle equipment and nomadic systems; and influence drivers' understanding of advanced parking management systems, advanced traveler information systems and dynamic message signs. Dr. Fisher received an A.B. from Bowdoin College, an Ed.M. from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.