Media Release: Do teens drive their parents to distraction?

Edinburgh teenagers and parents sought for driving study

A LECTURER from Heriot-Watt University is seeking teenagers and their guardians to take part in a research project investigating what effect teens have on their parent’s driving abilities.

Dr Terry Lansdown, whose research focuses on distraction and its effect on driving, needs volunteers to take part in a simulated drive at the Heriot-Watt University campus.

Teens and their parents will take part in a simulated car journey with the parent as the driver and the teen as a passenger. They will be asked to talk about potentially contentious issues then have their emotional responses and behaviour recorded.

Dr Terry Lansdown commented: “Driving is the number one killer of young males in the UK*, and four out of five incidents involve driver inattention**.

“Finding out the specific circumstances that most distract parents while they are driving, will enable us to make behavioural recommendations avoiding certain behaviours while in the car, helping make the roads safer for everyone.”

Teenagers and parents / guardians interested in taking part should contact Dr Lansdown by emailing or visit his website: Volunteers will be offered £10 each as a token compensation for participating in the experiment.


For more information, please contact: Sarah McDaid, Pagoda PR, 0131 556 0770/

Notes to editors:

About Dr Terry Lansdown

Terry Lansdown is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Life Sciences at Heriot-Watt University. His recent research has been on the issues with ‘social’ distractions in the vehicle and opportunities to encourage safe and efficient driving. He also focuses on the safety implications of operator workload, attentional distraction and task conflict.

About Heriot-Watt University

Heriot-Watt University specialises in science, technology, engineering, business and design, with a particular focus on developing solutions to critical global issues, such as climate change and energy.

In The Sunday Times 2013 University Guide
• Scottish University of the Year 2012/13 (for the second year running)
• UK University of the Year 2012/13 for student experience
• Number nine in the UK overall

In the National Student Survey 2012
• No 1 in Scotland and No 4 in UK (based on responses to all questions from FT degree students)
• In the Top Ten for graduate employment in the UK (over 94 per cent of graduates are in employment or further study within six months of graduation)

Established in 1821, the university has campuses in Edinburgh, the Scottish Borders, Orkney and Dubai, and is investing £35 million in a new campus in Malaysia.


**Dingus, T. A., Klauer, S. G., Neale, V. L., Petersen, A., Lee, S. E., Sudweeks, J., et al. (2006). The 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study, Phase II – Results of the 100-Car Field Experiment. Washington DC, USA: NHTSA.

*WHO. (2011). Mobile phone use: a growing problem of driver distraction. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organisation.

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