Research & Development

Can Eye-Tracking Data Support Driver Safety?

Man driving looking at rearview mirror

Capturing real-life data to improve driver safety

A driver approaches an intersection. They are surrounded by pedestrians and traffic while using a mobile device to find a nearby coffee shop and listening to a new podcast. With multiple factors requiring attention — as well as potential distractions — our client asked Exponent to answer whether an app with a "driving mode" feature could help minimize the amount of time the driver's eyes weren't on the road.

The Challenge 

How do you capture data on real-world driver eye-glance behavior to inform the next generation of a mobile app's driving feature? When one of the world's largest multinational technology companies set out to do it, they turned to Exponent for the answers.

The enhanced app was designed with a simplified interface mode, giving drivers fewer options and bigger buttons, and increased emphasis on voice capabilities to promote safe interaction.

Before it could launch the product, however, our client needed to know whether its voice and touch versions would effectively support driver safety as well as conform to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) driver distraction guidelines. To hit the mark, they needed to measure glance behavior while drivers interacted with the app. Exponent conducted testing aligned to NHTSA's distraction assessment protocol and compared the data to glance behavior statistics associated with the client's previous non-driving mode app version.

Exponent's MULTIDISCIPLINARY Solution 

Owing to Exponent's extensive scientific methodologies and data-driven approach to assessing and applying insights about driver behavior to help improve mobile technology applications, our Human Factors team implemented a comprehensive study of the visual attention demands associated with the app relative to NHTSA's distraction criteria.

Exponent's Impact

The test track field study and real-time performance data allowed Exponent experts to verify the application's go-to-market readiness and effectiveness, enabling our client to make informed decisions regarding its product launch.