Driver Attention to the Driving Task

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Institute for Transport Studies


With the advent of a variety of infotainment systems into the vehicle cockpit, the identification of whether the human operator is paying sufficient attention to the primary task of driving is becoming a critical research question. What entertainment and information activities are compatible with safe driving? How can infotainment systems be best designed so as to minimise the risk of diverting driver attention in situations when focus on the driving task is required?

This topic area is becoming even more important with the advent of automation of the driving task. When the vehicle is operating under its own control, it is arguably safe for the human to be diverting attention away from driving and the traffic situation. But some automation designs still require supervisory control by the human and readiness to take over at short notice. Therefore some level of attention to the external road and traffic scene is still needed and infotainment systems will need to be designed in such a way as to encourage that required attention and appropriate task sharing.

The studentship will combine both analysis of real-world driving (naturalistic studies) and experimental works, with the experimental investigation being informed by the lessons learned from the real-world studies. The analysis of real-world driving will exploit the newly completed and rich database acquired by the European UDRIVE project (, which provides unparalleled detail on the driving behaviour of car drivers recruited in four European countries, including continuous video of the road scene, the vehicle interior and the driver's face. It will be possible to analyse how driver glance behaviour and attention is influenced by the road and traffic situation, driver attitudes, driver country and secondary task activity and also how it relates to the inherent risk of the situation. Comparison with previous results from the analysis of naturalistic driving data from the U.S. will be a feature.

The experimental work will build on the naturalistic analysis to investigate how the design of infotainment systems could influence driver attention and what design solutions could fulfil drivers wish to engage in secondary tasks, while at the same time supporting needed attention to the roadway. It will be conducted in the University of Leeds Driving Simulator (, one of the most advanced such facilities in the world.


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509681/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1982888 Studentship EP/N509681/1 01/01/2018 30/06/2021 Mickael Perrier