Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Human Factors


Human Factors and Behavioral Neurobiology

Committee Chair

Alex Chaparro, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

Barbara Chaparro, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Joseph Keebler, Ph.D.

Third Committee Member

Rondell Burge, Ph.D.

Fourth Committee Member

Shawn Doherty, Ph.D.


Distracted driving has been a heavily researched area, and the negative impacts it has on driving performance is well known. Eye movement patterns of distracted drivers have also been studied, though insight into what the driver specifically looks at is not as well known. Researchers have studied eye movement metrics like average fixation durations, eyes-off-road glance times, time to first fixation, among other eye movement variables, over an entire drive, but not as much attention has been given to what the driver is looking at in a specific moment in time. The current study uses the Tobii Pro X2-60 eye tracker to investigate how eye movement patterns change while viewing driving scenes with different sets of instructions and while completing a secondary task.

This dissertation aimed to study where drivers were looking under various conditions to see how eye movement patterns changed in relation to different task instructions and task load. The results suggested that task instruction highly influenced how and where drivers looked at different areas of interest in the scene, while task load had lesser effects. These findings suggest that eye movements are largely impacted by task goal and have a purpose to allocate attention on the most relevant parts of the scene to decide whether it is safe to proceed. These findings are largely in support of top-down knowledge as a factor in eye movement planning while scanning a driving scene.