DriveFit: the Catholic University and Cattolica Assicurazioni study that demonstrates how neuroscience improves driving performance
The data collected from 50 drivers who conducted training stemming from mindfulness driving, in other words, neuro-psychological techniques that favour concentration in the car, showed, during a series of simulated driving tests, a decrease in violations (-8%) and aggressive behaviour (-12%) at the wheel, and an increase in the ability to manage attention and control environmental interferences - reducing reaction times by 10% - accompanied by greater psycho-physiological activation (+10%). These are the results of the DriveFit research conducted by the Catholic University Social and Emotional Neuroscience Research Unit team, directed by psychologist Michela Balconi, in collaboration with Cattolica Assicurazioni. The study, presented on Thursday, 3 October at Catholic University, proceeded based on data that came out of the European Transport Safety Council report, which indicates that in 2017 in Italy, there was an increase in the number of road accident victims compared to 2016 (+2.9%), showing distraction as the primary cause of accidents, with it playing a key role in 16% of the cases. Because intellectual functions and the driver’s personality play a key role in the factors that have an impact on driving performance, the goal of the study was to work on the potential of some stress control techniques to favour attention, the inhibition of distractions and the management of responses to dysfunctional stress.
The drivers who participated in the research, before doing the simulated driving test, were subjected to neuro-psychological mindfulness techniques, consulting a smartphone application that provides tips for relaxing the mind. They then put on technological glasses that allow the non-invasive detection of cerebral electrical activity of the wearer and which provide feedback in real time on concentration or stress levels. This way, they were helped to reinforce virtuous behaviour and discourage inappropriate behaviour. This scenario is joined by the evidence collected conducting road driving tests after cognitive training in vehicles fitted with the self-installing telematic device, Active Box, an innovative and digital Active Auto solution proposed by Cattolica Assicurazioni, which monitors the driver’s behaviour through an indicator (merit index) in constant evolution based on four parameters. Two behavioural (observance of speed limits and accelerations and decelerations) and two non-behavioural (kilometres driven and time-slot when driving occurs). In both driving tests conducted, the drivers demonstrated improved performance at the wheel, also associated with a relative decrease in the time spent over the speed limit.