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How JAF used eye tracking to verify the effects of driving under the influence

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JAF (Japan Automobile Federation) is a reliable partner for anyone who drives a car. JAF, strives to promote a healthy car culture by offering services that ensure the safety and security of drivers and passengers. They also actively engage in business activities aimed at enhancing traffic safety and protecting the environment. With this philosophy as their foundation, JAF is committed to addressing not just road-related issues but also broader social issues. 


Driving under the influence (DUI) is a significant problem in our society. While legal revisions and stricter penalties have led to a decline in the number of DUI accidents in Japan, with 2198 incidents reported in 2021, a decrease of 324 from the previous year, the ultimate goal is to eliminate drunk driving and the accidents it causes altogether. To address the concerns and social issues that automobile users face, JAF conducted various tests from the perspective of users and disseminated information through various media channels. As part of this effort, we examined the effects of alcohol consumption and its lingering effects on driving ability. 

JAF driving simulator


The latest driving simulator introduced by JAF Aichi Branch in 2022 was used to conduct this test. The simulator features 157 courses, including JAF's original content and courses designed for predicting and avoiding potential dangers. The test involved six participants, three men and three women, driving the simulator on urban roads and mountainous terrain. The objective was to investigate the effects of alcohol consumption on driving ability not just immediately after drinking, but also the next morning. To accomplish this, the test was conducted in three patterns: "before drinking," "immediately after drinking," and "the next morning." Tobii's wearable eye tracker, Tobii Pro Glasses 3, was used to check for driving mistakes and accidents, as well as to measure the gaze of the participants. 

During the JAF user test using the driving simulator, the driver was examined while operating the steering wheel, accelerator, and brakes. After a practice run, the number of accelerating or braking mistakes, steering errors, and accidents were examined. Each participant was measured before drinking alcohol, directly after drinking alcohol, and 10 hours later after a night’s sleep. 

Additionally, the eye tracker was used to measure any visual function abnormalities resulting from alcohol consumption. While driving, the participants' ability to recognize and react to pedestrians, bicycles, and oncoming vehicles was assessed, as well as whether they turned their heads and looked at them. 

JAF driver simulator


The test results confirmed that alcohol consumption affected driving ability not just immediately after drinking, but also the next morning. The JAF user test revealed that the number of mistakes made when operating the steering wheel, accelerator, and brake increased by 2 to 8 times immediately after drinking compared to before drinking, resulting in more accidents. Even though some participants claimed they did not feel any alcohol remaining in their system the next morning, the test showed that their driving ability still declined compared to before drinking. The eye tracking measurements revealed that alcohol consumption resulted in a narrower visual field and an increased tendency to overlook potential dangers. Participants who had previously looked in the mirror frequently reduced their frequency after consuming alcohol and focused more on the front. Additionally, one participant failed to react in time to an approaching motorcycle, leading to an accident. 

JAF driver simulator study heatmaps
The following morning, three participants still had difficulties seeing pedestrians and bicycles and only had a narrow range of vision in front of them.
JAF driver simulator study heatmaps
Therefore, it was demonstrated that the effects of alcohol on driving ability persisted until the next morning, and there was a risk of causing serious accidents.

Watch the video of the research study (In Japanese)


According to Mr. Daisuke Uchiumi from the Research Division of the Traffic Environment Department at the Japan Automobile Federation:

The eye tracking data from the test showed that the participants' field of view narrowed, and they tended to overlook things immediately after drinking alcohol. Even the next morning, some participants claimed they didn't feel any effects, but the test showed that their driving abilities were still impaired. For example, one participant had difficulty avoiding children and motorcycles and even crossed into the oncoming lane.
Mr. Daisuke Uchiumi, Research Division of the Traffic Environment Department, JAF

Mr. Utsumi emphasized the importance of refraining from driving when feeling drowsy or unwell and using public transportation instead:  

I want people to be aware that the effects of alcohol can last even into the next morning.
Mr. Daisuke Uchiumi, Research Division of the Traffic Environment Department, JAF

JAF hopes that the results of this test will help eliminate drunk-driving accidents. 

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    6 min

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    • Eye trackers

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    • Consumer research and user experience

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