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Lemercier C.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Pecher C.,Center Des Science Du Gout Et Of Lalimentation | Berthie G.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Valery B.,French National Center for Scientific Research | And 8 more authors.
Safety Science | Year: 2014

Commonly defined as "task-unrelated thoughts", the mind wandering (MW) state is one of the causes of inattention to on-going tasks. Such a concept includes various kinds of thoughts from unaware ones to emotional/ruminative or distractive ones (i.e. all thoughts unrelated to an emotional state). Some researchers have investigated emotional ruminative thoughts in the daily driving context and found an indisputable impact on the focus of attention on the driving scene. Although more frequent in driving situations, no study has focused on distractive thoughts. The aim of this paper is to determine how this kind of task-unrelated thought impacts driving behavior. To induce distractive thoughts, participants were instructed to encode picture/word (retrospective thoughts) and picture/intention (prospective thoughts) pairs during a distractive thought induction phase. Then, in the simulated driving phase, encoded pictures were presented on highway road signs, and served as cues of recall. Drivers had to recall either the word or the intention associated with the picture as soon as they saw it, requiring self-activation of thoughts by participants. Distractive thoughts led to less micro-regulation of both speed and lateral position and narrowed visual scanning of the driving scene. Participants also declared that it increased their mental workload. Theoretical and methodological aspects of the study were discussed regarding the literature on mind-wandering and distraction in driving. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Berthie G.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Lemercier C.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Paubel P.-V.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Cour M.,Continental AG | And 5 more authors.
Accident Analysis and Prevention | Year: 2015

Recent research has clearly shown that inattention when driving has an indisputable impact on road safety. "Mind wandering" (MW), an inattentional state caused by a shift in attention from the ongoing task to inner thoughts, is not only frequent in everyday activities but also known to impact performance. There is a growing body of research investigating the concept of MW, suggesting potential causes that could foster such a phenomenon. Only one epidemiological study has focused on this issue in a critical driving context (Galéra et al., 2012), and it revealed the harmful effects of MW in increasing the risk of a car crash. Experimental studies rather consider that driver would adduce in MW (Lemercier et al., 2014). When the driving context is too hard or the thought too difficult to proceed, driver reduced their MW. The aim of this paper is to examine this issue using the most recent trip of ordinary drivers whose MW state did not lead to a road accident. Using a questionnaire, information was collected about the participants' most recent trip as a driver, including: (1) personal characteristics, (2) context in which MW occurs, (3) awareness of MW episodes and finally (4) characteristics of the thoughts. Results revealed that MW affected 85.2% of the drivers, who spent on average 34.74% of their trip in a MW state. Moreover, we found that the contexts which favor MW are situations in which less of the driver's attention is needed to drive, such as familiar commutes, monotonous motorways or by-passes, or when drivers were alone in their cars. In these MW situations, the drivers quickly became aware of their MW episodes. Thoughts tend to involve neutral private concerns, related to present- or future-oriented content. Our findings suggest that MW is a functional state aiming to solve current problems. Future investigations should focus on this critical concept of MW when driving, both to identify safety issues and to provide suitable solutions for drivers subject to a wandering mind. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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