Conference Proceeding

Comparing Methods of Detecting Mind Wandering While Driving

  • Daniela Barragan (George Mason University Fairfax, VA)
  • Lana M Roberts (George Mason University Fairfax, VA)
  • Steven S Chong (George Mason University Fairfax, VA)
  • Carryl L Baldwin (George Mason University Fairfax, VA)


Driver distraction is a persistent threat to traffic safety. External distraction has been examined extensively, but few studies have focused on internal distraction such as mind wandering. Equivocal results from the few existing studies are likely due, at least in part, to different experimental methods. Mind wandering is commonly assessed using either a self-caught or probe-caught method. The current investigation sought to better understand the effects of mind wandering on driving performance using the self-caught method and the probecaught method. In the Self-Caught Experiment, lateral control measures such as, lateral position variability and steering reversal rate were greater when drivers reported on-task thoughts versus mind wandering. In the Probe-Caught Experiment, these results were not replicated using the traditional probe-caught analysis. Instead, when analyzing the results of the Probe-Caught Experiment in a similar manner as the Self-Caught Experiment, the results were replicated. These results highlight methodological concerns in detecting mind wandering while driving. Additional research is needed to determine which method should be employed in future studies.

How to Cite:

Barragan, D. & Roberts, L. & Chong, S. & Baldwin, C., (2017) “Comparing Methods of Detecting Mind Wandering While Driving”, Driving Assessment Conference 9(2017), 79-86. doi:

Rights: Copyright © 2017 the author(s)

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Published on
27 Jun 2017
Peer Reviewed