Profile Associates, Inc./AlertDriver/TAA History
Profile Associates, Inc. is a consulting company in Chapel Hill, North Carolina that was established in 1975. Two of Profile Associates products are AlertDriver and TAA (The Attention Assessment). Our diverse projects on assessment and training have included work with:
GlaxoSmithKline
King Pharmaceuticals
Minnesota Highway Patrol
Minnesota Trucking Association
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
NC Court System
North Carolina Highway Patrol (NCSHP)
RTI International
NC Court System
SAS Institute
United States Air Force (USAF)
United States Marine Corps (USMC)
Profile Associates’ mission is to enhance safety by developing advanced testing and training programs for drivers.

Dr. Ken Mills, our chief scientist, began working 30 years ago with teams who were developing computerized tests to measure how people divide their attention among the many elements of a visual scene (www.taatest.com). This work was based on the scientific finding that there are times when we cannot process all of the visual information bombarding us, especially under stress. During emergencies, our attention becomes focused on a small portion of the scene while other equally important elements are ignored. This is called attention narrowing and it plays a critical role in how we navigate complex traffic scenes on a day-to-day basis.

Driver training is the way that we prevent attention from narrowing. We are discovering that attention-allocation skills follow the laws of learning: they improve with practice, the task of learning can be broken down into manageable components, and feedback can be structured for each new skill. This is the core of all AlertDriver programs. While this may seem like common sense, most drivers do not recognize that their attention skills can improve over a lifetime.

As Dr. Mills became more aware of how scientists investigate restrictions to our field of vision, he was also gaining exposure to professional trainers who teach police, truck drivers, school bus drivers and other professionals to drive. He brought these instructors together into focus groups, where they explained what goes on as a driver learns to perform under a variety of conditions. The instructors emphatically validated that disrupted attention was the greatest impediment to safe driving.

Dr. Mills’ basic and applied research with drivers and instructors led him to write the best-selling book Disciplined Attention in 2005. The book is the basis of the Online Driver Education Course for traffic offenders and the Online Fleet Driver Training program. In 2009, Disciplined Attention was converted to an all e-learning model with video instructional examples, student feedback and interactive no-fail questions and discussions.

The Development of AlertDriver Online Driver Education

After the release of Disciplined Attention in 2005, Chief District Court Judge Joe Buckner approached Dr. Mills and invited him to start a driver education program in his court. The appeal of the book was that it was a step-by-step analysis of the attention lapses that cause traffic crashes, gleaned from the evidence from studies of drivers’ eye movements.

Dr. Mills knew from his exposure to traffic safety research that most driver education courses didn’t have much of an effect. For sure, some seemed to reduce tickets, but they didn’t work to cut down crashes. However, Dr. Mills knew that the judge wanted to make our community a safer place to drive. He asked Judge Buckner to allow some time to set up a program that might make a difference.

As Dr. Mills was writing Disciplined Attention, he realized that much of driver’s education was either about rules of the road or what some expert considered safe movements. Yet, modern research was producing study after study that implicated distracted and aggressive driving as culprits that robbed driver attention and were highly linked to crashes. Why weren’t drivers’ ed courses addressing these issues?

AlertDriver started to build a cognitive-behavioral model that took a snapshot of each driver’s specific beliefs, attitudes and on-the-road behaviors about distracted and aggressive driving before they took our course. We can ask about your knowledge of DMV regulations till we’re blue in the face, but it’s your real-time risky road attitudes and behaviors that will make a difference in how you drive day to day.
(You can read about how this model works in over 4000 drivers)

AlertDriver asks what each participant perceives as risky and dangerous. It asks each how specific attitudes influence driving performance and risk of a crash. It asks how current habits influence the future ability to drive safely

The program then targets the driver’s attention skills from both a scientific and professional driving instructor’s perspective. It emphasizes skill development, instead of shaming the person, and offers safety exercises to practice on the road. It has guidelines for safer driving from the participant’s point of view because it gives confidential, individualized feedback. Each driver is compared with other drivers who have taken the course over the last five years. The program is extremely popular with drivers because they say they learn practical skills that they put to use immediately on the road, and in some case with sports (after all, it’s about improving attention habits). Our students’ most frequent comment is “This course made sense to me. Thank you.”


The Development of the AlertDriver Fleet Driver Training Program

Over the last 15 years, Dr. Mills had been giving popular seminars to a wide variety of groups: state troopers, school bus drivers, professional truck drivers, senior citizens, and even NCAA volleyball referees. The feedback from the seminars was extremely positive, but as is the case with many seminars, program effects were short lived. AlertDriver started looking for a way to incorporate the lively seminar material into an online course. We also wanted a way to extend the course benefits to trainers and their employees. Recent scientific papers suggested that extended communications about safety issues could have a dramatic effect to lower crash rates.

In December 2008, Devon Mills became the Program Director for AlertDriver and immediately started working on a way to engineer online seminar content. Devon has a background in marketing and seminar delivery. At the same time, AlertDriver began asking each online client for their feedback and advice on how to improve our curriculum. The customers said they loved our core material, but we needed more “lively” video content to supplement our safety messages.

The result of customer input and course redesign is our AlertDriver 100% Online Fleet Driver Training course. It is more intensive than our court program. The core curriculum of the all new Disciplined Attention II is about on-the-road risk management. There is a dual emphasis on visual attention development and behavioral observation of risky drivers. The behavioral observation techniques were given by our seminar students! Many were seasoned police officers and commercial drivers who had spent years on congested highways without a single crash. They’ve learned techniques to predict and avoid dangerous situations. Thus, your drivers learn to become trained observers through high-quality interactive instruction with live video examples.

The Online fleet course is 4-6 hours, with discussion and supervisory monitoring optional. AlertDriver does all of the course administration. Each employee’s confidential progress is tracked automatically. We set up a private portal for your company so that we can gather before-after data. We prepare a summary report of the results that can be presented to employees, management and your insurance carrier.

AlertDriver is living up to its slogan:
Fine Tune Your Attention. Save Lives.