Handedness as a Predictor of Startle Response Reflexes Elicited during Unanticipated Driving Events
Seeley, Jennifer S.
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Left-handers have been shown to be at a greater risk for collisions and/or injuries while driving motor vehicles than right-handers. Some have suggested that this trend may be due to different response reflexes between left- and right-handers that affect driving behavior, especially those that occur during startling roadway events. To test this hypothesis, we evaluated the role of handedness on startle response reflexes of 30 students at a Midwestern university in terms of its ability to predict drivers’ reactions during an unanticipated driving situation. Frequencies for handedness were 14 right-handers, 11 left-handers, and 5 mixed-handers. Results based on observational checklists and video footage analysis indicated that handedness was a significant predictor of specific startle reflexes with right-handers more likely exhibiting a right-hand turn response, left-handers exhibiting a left-hand turn response, and mixed-handers not exhibiting a startle response turn in either specific direction.