, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 236-241
Date: 26 Jul 2011

Effects of Mindfulness Training on Simulated Driving: Preliminary Results

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Abstract

Mindfulness training was examined in relation to drivers' (ages 21 to 38 years) situation awareness and performance. University students enrolled in a Buddhist psychology class were taught concentration techniques in which they were instructed to focus their attention on their breath and mindfulness techniques in which they learned to objectively notice whatever arises in consciousness. These students were to practice these techniques in their everyday activities in order to improve their mindfulness and concentration. Students enrolled in a human factors psychology course served as the control group in which they were not taught mindfulness training exercises. Students in the Buddhist psychology course scored significantly highly on a scale used to assess their ability to concentrate, though differences in mindfulness between the groups were not significant. Situation awareness was assessed using a query method in a driving simulator. Mindfulness and concentration levels were both significantly related to situation awareness for driving (rs = 0.80 and 0.61, respectively). Mindfulness training may greatly impact actual driving performance over time by improving drivers' awareness of their environment and enabling them to block out distractions and to quickly identify hazards. Whereas recent technological advances for improving driving safety (e.g., tactile warnings) have been studied, mental exercises for improving SA in driving have only recently been studied and warrant further research.