Biofeedback Arrests Sympathetic and Behavioral Effects in Distracted Driving



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Operating machinery while distracted is dangerous, and may lead to accidents. Distracted driving in particular has become an epidemic, landed by such things as smartphone usage and the tendency to slip into absent-mindedness in tedious commutes. Here we show that a method capable of detecting the onset of distractions, can pull the driver out of a downward psychophysiological spiral. The method is reliable, unobtrusive, and subtle in its intervention - all important characteristics for real-time corrections on human handling of critical machinery. Arousal estimation is performed by a conservative statistical filter acting upon the driver’s perinasal perspiration signal, as this is continuously extracted from a thermal imaging feed. Overarousal notices are communicated via a visual indicator placed in the driver’s peripheral vision. Using this method, we conducted a parallel group experiment, where a control CL (n = 23) and a biofeedback BF (n = 24) cohort were distracted mentally and physically while driving, with only the biofeedback group receiving the benefit of overarousal notification. Results show that heeding biofeedback notices cuts dramatically the time BF subjects are engaged in distractions with respect to the control group, significantly reducing their arousal levels and improving their driving behaviors in the context of a typical commute.



Distracted driving, Affective computing, Perspiration, Sympathetic arousal, Thermal imaging, Cusum, Biofeedback