How Are Reaction Times Influenced by Distractions
Will Borritt, James Hohmann
St George's School
Floor Location : J 033 D

According to the World Health Organization, 1.25 million people die each year from road traffic crashes which averages out to approximately 3,400 deaths a day. There are many factors that can lead to road traffic accidents, the largest being human caused error behind the wheel. As cars have progressed in their safety mechanics and performance, human error still is a challenge to overcome in reducing deaths and injuries. The biggest issue is with distracted driving.
We wondered how safe self-driving cars be?  Currently self-driving cars are being tested and developed at a fast pace but still require humans to be ready to step in and take control if needed.
We decided to look at reaction time of human drivers to see how it would change when distractions are introduced. We conducted three tests – a baseline test, a test with distractions (music and conversation) and a test that simulated someone in a self-driving car performing a distracting task (a dot to dot puzzle). It was our hypothesis that as distractions were increased, reaction times would slow. We used a device that allowed us to accurately measure the time from when a signal (light and sound) was triggered and when the subject responded. From our results, we were able to conclude that distractions do slow reaction times and that distracted subjects in a scenario that simulated a self-driving car had even slower reaction times.