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Driver Distraction Threat
November 2, 2009

University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) industrial and systems engineering professor John Lee spoke about the dangers of distracted driving recently at a Washington, D.C., meeting on the topic. The meeting included representatives from the Obama administration, U.S. Senate and automotive industry, among others, and was a chance for Prof. Lee to discuss his area of expertise: technology-mediated attention.

His initial work at UW-Madison will focus on reducing driver distraction. Technologies such as eye tracking and sensor arrays are already available in some high-end vehicles and are likely to become more widespread. Prof. Lee is developing algorithms that could interpret data from these technologies and determine if a driver is distracted or attentive to the road.

Prof. Lee is developing similar technology to diagnose a driver as alcohol-impaired. The diagnosis is based on an array of sensors calculating steering wheel movements, lane positions and where the driver is looking. In response to the diagnosis, a car could limit speed, alert the driver to their level of impairment, or even turn off.

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