COVID-19 Update

Study Finds Video Calls Lead To Distracted Driving

Survey finds that 54% of Americans who drive after video chatting reported have trouble concentrating on the road.

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Just when we thought we were rounding the corner on COVID-19, the world is hit with another global health crisis: zombies.

However, these zombies aren’t after your brains, and they’re hardly undead.

According to a new survey from Root Insurance, these zombies are actually just humans that are burnt out on videoconferencing and staring at little heads on their monitor all day.

The Ohio-based insurance firm released the results of a survey of over 6.1 million miles driven by drivers who completed the company’s test drive, which found that video chatting can be distracting even after the call is over.

According to the firm, the survey found that 54% of Americans who drive after video chatting reported have trouble concentrating on the road.

I don’t need to get into this too deeply, but videoconferencing has exploded. All in the pro AV space know this. 2020 was the best year ever for Zoom, and its user base has exploded. Likewise for Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Webex other videoconferencing services.

However, as much as some in this industry like to deny it, video calls are exhausting.

Fast Company, in an article about the Root Insurance study, quoted a psychology expert on just why video calls are so distracting.

Experts explain that videoconferencing saps more brain power than in-person ones because you have to pay more attention. Participating in a video call, usually from your own home, requires you to block out all the personal belongings surrounding you, interruptions from roommates or partners, children running around, household chores, etc.

“Attention is a limited resource,” Stefan van der Stigchel, a professor of experimental psychology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, tells Fast Company. “All of that resource needs to be allocated to a screen . . . It’s really poor VR. You need to transport yourself to a location where you’re not physically present, while ignoring all distractions around you.”

The inability to zero in on an activity can impact whatever you do after the videoconferencing call, and the lack of focus while behind the wheel can have serious and potentially deadly consequences.

“If you go on the road, you just used a large portion of your concentration and that will leave you with less ability to concentrate,” he explains. “Driving on the road requires quite lot of attention, especially if it’s a route you’ve not taken before.”

Thankfully, providers have started to take notice and have begun releasing features that will make video calls more engaging and less distracting, like the ability to reframe individual participants in a meeting room, improved noise filtering and more layout options.

PTZ cameras are another solution, as they allow meeting participants to roam around the room and multitask, so they aren’t forced to sit in front of a camera.

It’s the AV industry’s duty to not only make video meetings productive and efficient, but also to make conferencing systems more user friendly. The tools are there – now find out how to implement them.

CoronaVirus Update