Cultural comparison of distracted drivers subject of study

Distracted driving is a worldwide problem, says professor Chris Lee, and preventing it is of global importance for improved road safety.

“There has been a startling rise in the number of fatal and seriously injured collisions linked to the widespread use of electronic gadgets in automobiles,” he says.

Dr. Lee, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Master’s student Larissa Dushime are collaborating with civil engineering professor Nicola Baldo at the University of Udine to compare driver behaviours in Canada and Italy.

Fuelled by a $25,000 NSERC Alliance International Catalyst Grant, the research team will observe driver behaviour under various distracting environments — music, cell phone use, navigation systems — and analyze how they relate to driver characteristics and affect safety.

The analysis will lead to better understanding of cultural traits to create in-car warning systems that are more appropriate for the unique circumstances of each nation.

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