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TitleUncovering driver inattention and distraction in fatal and injury crashes
TypeConference Paper

Research has demonstrated that distraction and inattention can lead to diminished driving performance [e.g. 1, 2] but there is limited evidence regarding their role in crashes. Investigating the role of distraction within crashes, and the context within which it occurs, is challenging as it is often difficult to obtain accurate information about circumstances preceding a crash. The in-depth analysis of crashes which includes participant interviews is likely to elicit more information about pre-crash circumstances and motivations due to the assurance of confidentiality, lack of legal consequences and ability of the interviewer to prompt the participant. Importantly, it also permits the investigation of underlying behavioral mechanisms behind inattention-related crashes (e.g. cognitive distraction) that might not be revealed using other methods. This study investigated the contribution of driver distraction and inattention within a sample of fatal and injury crashes using recent in-depth road crash investigation data. The wider context in which inattention-related crashes occurred was also examined to assist in developing system-based solutions.


The sample included in-depth crash data from 186 fatal and injury crashes in South Australia investigated from 2014-2018. Crash case notes were reviewed to determine if there was evidence that attentional failures contributed to the crash. A standard definition of inattention and distraction was operationalised in order to code the data. Using an adapted taxonomy of inattention [3], five subtypes of driver inattention were defined: misprioritised attention, neglected attention, cursory attention, diverted attention (distraction) and unspecified inattention. The characteristics of inattention crashes were also compared with those for non-inattention-related crashes.

Conference Name7th International Conference on Driver Distraction and Inattention
Conference AbbreviationDDI2021
Conference LocationLyon, France
Conference Date18-20 October 2021

Lisa Wundersitz (2021) 'Uncovering driver inattention and distraction in fatal and injury crashes', 7th International Conference on Driver Distraction and Inattention, Lyon, France, 18-20 October 2021.