UCLIC Research Seminar Series

UCLIC Research Seminar 19th of February: Birsen Donmez (University of Toronto), Young drivers, distraction, and automated vehicle technologies
Birsen Donmez, University of Toronto


UCLIC Research Seminar 19th of February: Birsen Donmez (University of Toronto), Young drivers, distraction, and automated vehicle technologies


Distraction is a significant contributing factor to young driver crashes. Crash risk is known to decrease with driving experience, partly because of the improved skills to control the vehicle, but also because of the improved capability to distribute attention, even when distracted. Although driver distraction is a concern for both novice and experienced drivers, novice drivers are particularly at risk when distracted. Further, the driving task, which remained relatively unchanged since the advent of motor vehicles, is now being transformed drastically. Advances in vehicle technology over the next few decades will transform driving into monitoring of and coordination with vehicle automation while being exposed to several information sources, both related and unrelated to the driving task.

In this talk, I will present a series of empirical studies in which we evaluated young drivers' attention allocation both for manual driving (i.e., no automation) and for automated driving (low to high levels of automation). I will also present a series of studies evaluating different distraction mitigation technologies for young drivers' manual driving, and will also discuss future research directions for supporting attention allocation in automated driving through interaction design.


Birsen Donmez is an Associate Professor and the Associate Chair of Research at the University of Toronto, Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering. She is also the NSERC Canada Research Chair in Human Factors and Transportation. She received her MS (2004) and PhD (2007) in industrial engineering, and her MS in statistics (2007) from the University of Iowa. Before joining the University of Toronto, she spent two years as a postdoctoral associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Aeronautics and Astronautics Department.

Donmez's research interests are centered on understanding and improving human behavior and performance in multi-task and complex situations, using a wide range of analytical techniques. In particular, her research focuses on operator attention in multitask activities, decision support under uncertainty, and human automation interaction, with applications in various domains including surface transportation, healthcare, mining, and unmanned vehicle operations. Donmez's selected honors include an NSERC Discovery Accelerator Supplement (2016), the inaugural Stephanie Binder Young Professional Award from the HFES Surface Transportation Technical Group (2014), and an Early Researcher Award from the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation of Ontario (2015). She is the incoming chair for the Vehicle User Characteristics of the Transportation Research Board of the US National Academies, is an associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems, is a steering committee member of the ACM Conference on Automotive User Interfaces and Interactive Vehicular Applications (AutomotiveUI), and served as the General Chair for AutomotiveUI'18.