60-Second Science

Study Will Watch Drivers Watch the Road

The Transportation Research Board will put cameras and other sensors in more than 3,000 cars to find out what drivers are doing right--and wrong. Steve Mirsky reports

What do you do while driving to make the streets more dangerous? Fiddle with the radio? Light a cigarette? Butter your bagel while texting as you adjust the seat? Or possibly the most dangerous, do you simply drive while teenaged?

The Transportation Research Board of the National Academies is embarking on a major study to find out what drivers are doing that endangers them and others on the road. In the hopes of making streets safer.

The plan is to enroll a total of more than 3,000 drivers in six different states in what’s called the Strategic Highway Research Program’s Naturalistic Driving Study. Investigators will install a data collection system in participants’ cars that measures an array of driver activity. Sensors include four video cameras, accelerometers, GPS and radar to identify what’s in front of the car. Traffic, lighting and weather will also get tracked.

The study seeks drivers in Seattle, Tampa Bay, Durham, North Carolina, Bloomington, Indiana, Buffalo, New York, and central Pennsylvania. For more info go to After coming to a full stop.

—Steve Mirsky

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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