The Great Multitasking Lie
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, The University of Utah, The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the National Safety Council have released a study revealing the how people feel about distracted driving.
In the study, The Great Multitasking Lie, it is stated that, “Most people may know that texting while driving is a dangerous behavior, but many don’t fully grasp the idea that having cell phone conversations in the car is also risky.”
Here are a few of the basics reported by the AAA Foundation in regards to cell phone use while driving:
- More than two out of three drivers report talking on their cell phone while driving at least once in the past thirty days.
- Nearly one in three people reported they use their cell phones “fairly often” or “regularly” while driving.
- Drivers are four times more likely to be involved in a car crash when talking on handheld or hands-free cell phone
The top four myths of cell phone distracted driving:
- Drivers can multitask
- Talking to someone on a cell phone is no different than talking to someone in the car
- Hands-free devices eliminate the danger of cell phone use during driving
- Drivers talking on cell phones still have a quicker reaction time than those who are driving under the influence
The Truth about these cell phone distracted driving:
- The brain cannot multitask. Rather, the human brain switches between two cognitive activities, talking on the phone and driving, at a rapid pace. Both of thees activities are thinking tasks and are not processed simultaneously.
- Having an adult passenger in your vehicle to whom you have a conversation with is very different than having one with a person on a cell phone. When you are speaking to someone on a phone, they are unaware of the traffic conditions around you and therefore can’t be an ‘extra set of eyes and ears’ to the driver. Research has shown that adult passengers tend to adjust their talking when traffic is challenging and alert drivers of possible oncoming traffic issues.
- Hands-free cell phone devices remain a distraction to the brain. Activity in the parietal lobe, the area of the brain that processes movement f visual images and is important for safe driving, decreases by as much as 37% when listening to language, according to a study by Carnegie Mellon University. Their study also reported that drivers talking on cell phones can miss seeing up to 50% of their driving environments, including pedestrians and red lights. They look but they don’t see. This phenomenon is also known as “inattention blindness.”
- Lastly, According to the University of Utah, drivers with a .08 blood alcohol content had a faster reaction time than drivers using their cell phones. The difference between the two distractions while behind the wheel is that drivers on their cell phones can immediately eliminate their risk by hanging up the phone while drunk drivers remain at the risk until they sober up.