Mind wandering behind the wheel: Performance and oculomotor correlates

Jibo He, becic Ensar, Lee Yi-Ching, Jason McCarley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    140 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: An experiment studied the frequency and correlates of driver mind wandering. Background: Driver mind wandering is associated with risk for crash involvement. The present experiment examined the performance and attentional changes by which this effect might occur. Method: Participants performed a car-following task in a high-fidelity driving simulator and were asked to report any time they caught themselves mind wandering. Vehicle control and eye movement data were recorded. Results: As compared with their attentive performance, participants showed few deficits in vehicle control while mind wandering but tended to focus visual attention narrowly on the road ahead. Conclusion: Data suggest that mind wandering can engender a failure to monitor the environment while driving. Application: Results identify behavioral correlates and potential risks of mind wandering that might enable efforts to detect and mitigate driver inattention.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)13-21
    Number of pages9
    JournalHuman Factors
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


    • attention
    • distraction
    • driver behavior
    • eye movements
    • mind wandering


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