Shannon Roberts
University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
Jennifer McDermott
University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Psychological and Brain Sciences



Attention and Adaptation of Teen Drivers to Driving Automation Systems

Uncovering the effect of automation on driving for teens is important because given their high crash rate, they may benefit the most from driving automation systems (DASs). However, depending on their experience and abilities, they may be the most prone to distraction and they may have difficulty effectively partnering with DASs. Given that driving is a complex process with high cognitive demands, it’s beneficial to determine how heterogeneity in adolescents’ developing attentional skills, as well as their social awareness, influence engagement with DASs. The objective of this proposed research is to: (1) quantify how teen drivers adapt to DASs over a four-week exposure period; and (2) use neural markers of prefrontal development that reflect attention skills to predict teen drivers’ initial adaptation to DASs and subsequent adaption after repeated exposure. Teen drivers (n = 40) will be recruited from Massachusetts through driving education schools. Participants will begin with a visit to PI McDermott’s laboratory for assessment of behavioral and neural measures of attention and executive functions (e.g., sustained attention, selective attention, working memory, inhibitory control, attention shifting and response monitoring). Afterwards, four driving simulator studies (to be conducted in PI Roberts’ laboratory) spaced approximately one week apart will be conducted to examine teens’ behavioral adaptation to a level 2 DAS. Drivers’ adaptation responses using surrogate driving safety measures will be entered into a one-factor (exposure number) ANOVA to determine whether exposure has an effect on driver response. For the second set of analyses, behavioral and neural measures of attention skills will serve as independent variables to predict efficiency in adaption to DAS at initial introduction as measured by the surrogate driving safety measures.