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Brendan M. Lynch
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Media Advisory: Expert on vision and attention in transportation available to speak about Metro-North derailment

Wed, 12/04/2013

LAWRENCE — Paul Atchley, professor of psychology at University of Kansas, is available to speak with reporters about the recent, fatal Metro-North derailment in New York City. Atchley is a world-renowned expert on issues of vision and attention related to transportation. He currently leads a multidisciplinary research team dealing with issues of driver distraction and vehicle design.

Regarding the Metro-North incident, Atchley said, “Essentially, this is what we call ‘mind wandering’ — that’s the scientific term for spacing out. The operator was more than likely just inattentive. He probably was well-rested and capable of operating the train just fine. But he was engaged in routine behavior, the same thing over and over again. We all space out once in a while. He just did it at a very bad moment in time.”

Regarding the Metro-North incident, Atchley said, “Essentially, this is what we call ‘mind wandering’ — that’s the scientific term for spacing out. The operator was more than likely just inattentive. He probably was well-rested and capable of operating the train just fine. But he was engaged in routine behavior, the same thing over and over again. We all space out once in a while. He just did it at a very bad moment in time.”

Atchley can be reached by phone at 785-843-1189 or at patchley@ku.edu.



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