Our brains can brake a car faster than our feet

If you’ve ever had to slam on the brakes to prevent an accident, you know that the time it takes to get your foot to that pedal can seem like an eternity. Now, German researchers aim to cut that reaction time by getting drivers’ brain waves to help stop the car. Their findings appear in the Journal of Neural Engineering.

When you’re behind the wheel, or doing anything physical, your brain knows what it wants you to do before your body swings into action. Most times, this minor delay between thinking and doing is no big deal. But when you’re moving at 60 miles an hour and the car in front of you stops short, every fraction of a second counts.

Researchers recorded how quickly volunteers reacted when the lead vehicle in a driving simulator suddenly hit the brakes. Sensors monitored the subjects’ brain activity. Turns out drivers knew they needed to slow down more than a tenth of a second before they tap the brakes.

That might not seem like much, but if cars could read minds, they could stop 12 feet sooner at highway speeds. Which could mean the difference between a scare and a smash.

Listen to the podcast version of this story – Brain Brakes Car Faster Than Foot



// Photo – LorE Denizen

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  1. Great that you highlighted his work – I’ve been a regular reader since early in the 2008 campaign, and I’m particularly looking forward to his book (“The Signal and the Noise”), due out in a couple of months, before the election I think (it’s about prediction as a science in general, not just in politics).

    With all that said, I disagree with his prediction; all I have to go with is my gut (and the fact that while both Nate and I are failed political scientists, I’m much older than he), and my gut tells me that Romney wins by 6 or so percentage points and a substantial electoral-vote margin. Time will tell….

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