Mindfulness Predicts Driver Engagement in Distracting Activities
Distracted driving is a major public health concern because of its potential costs of injury, mortality, and property damage. Understanding the psychological factors that underlie drivers’ willingness to engage in distracting activities despite the clear safety risks can help to identify interventions to mitigate this dangerous behavior. This study examined if mindfulness, defined as one’s attention to and awareness of oneself and the present situation, predicts driver engagement in a wide range of distracting activities, including in-vehicle technology and non-technology-based distraction sources, daydreaming/mind wandering, and distractions external to the vehicle. A total of 312 drivers completed an online survey assessing levels of mindfulness and the frequency with which they engaged in a range of potentially distracting activities. The results showed that while engagement in distracting activities is common, mindfulness was negatively associated with the frequency of driver engagement in all distraction sources studied, apart from passenger interaction. Our results suggest that a single mindfulness intervention could potentially reduce driver engagement in multiple distracting activities at once, and therefore have significant utility as a distraction mitigation technique.