Understanding and Supporting Safe Driving of ADHD Teenagers with Auditory Feedback


A systems engineer and cognitive behavioral therapist are combining efforts to design a tool that mitigates driving distraction through a Wii-like device that tracks eye, body, and head movement. Drs. Lau and Cox will seek to help adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to drive safely by creating a negative feedback loop that detects driver distraction.

Lau, from the University of Virginia's Department of Systems and Information Engineering, said that research in psychology, engineering and driving alone have contributed much independently, but the areas are not well integrated. There is also a lot of research being done on distraction, he said, but not much on device building. He envisions a time when we are not relying on medication for these youth.

'This is an opportunity to collaborate to see if you can develop a tool or refine a tool through innovation. We can be a bridge between what psychologists know and how engineers use technology,' he said.

According to Lau, there are alarms to help truck drivers stay alert but there aren’t tools to help youth and specifically ADHD drivers. 'The trick is also not to be too intrusive or annoying,' said Lau.

Principal Investigator:
Nathan Ka Ching Lau, University of Virginia, Senior Scientist, Systems and Information Engineering, Systems Engineering

Co-Principal Investigator:
Daniel J. Cox, University of Virginia, Professor Departments of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, Internal Medicine, and Ophthalmology

Other 2012 Seed-funded Projects

Related Media: UVA Today