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Multitasking same as Drunk Driving

By November 2, 2008 - 3:21pm
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According to a recent NPR Health story, multitasking while driving (ie, talking on a cell phone) is as dangerous as drunk driving. Do you agree?

NPR reports that "...the brain struggles with paying attention to signs and sounds simultaneously. When the brain starts working on a visual task, its auditory parts show decreased activity, and vice versa."

Think about this: when we are listening and talking on the cell phone (auditory) while driving, our driving becomes impaired (visual) and we are not able to process as many images in our brain, or process them as quickly. We all know that mere seconds are all that are needed to be involved in an accident.

"In fact, driver inattention is involved in about 80 percent of crashes, according to a 2006 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration."

Would you give up talking on your cell phone while driving, in order to avoid an accident?

You can read the full story here:

Add a Comment6 Comments

I don't find it hard to believe that, multi tasking is a serious issue in driving, I don't know why it's hard to understand for some of us the real importance of focusing on driving. You can fix you alcohol problems in alcohol rehabilitation but it's also up to you to make sure you are driving safe and focused on the road- there isn't any clinic to teach you that.

May 14, 2009 - 7:36am

A proposed law prohibiting talking (or texting) on a cell phone while driving didn't pass in Texas. That we're so far behind Europe in passing such a law is deplorable. You've probably experienced the driver swerving across the line while trying to navigate with one hand, the cell phone in the other. Well, we have very large vehicles being driven by moms multitasking: chatting on phone, eating, applying makeup, dealing with kids, etc., sometimes several activities at once.

I like voice dial and Bluetooth, and wish I had handsfree features built into my car. They wouldn't be "gadgets," but safety oriented. I think that we do need laws against irresponsible driving behavior. It's sad to see that, while people espouse education as the solution, in practice they ignore it.

November 3, 2008 - 6:13pm
EmpowHER Guest

This is pretty interesting because as time goes on, we learn more about how all of our fancy in-car gadgets are killing us. However, as time goes on we also have more in-car gadgets than ever to choose from. In any event, I don't think this is a problem best solved with laws. After all, how do you catch someone "being distracted" or "texting while driving," especially if the first time you notice them is after the crash?

I think education combined with a free-market approach makes the most sense. If people learn how dangerous being distracted is, then there's a lot of profit to be made by companies who make non-invasive, in-car gadgets.

Free legal advice

November 3, 2008 - 3:43pm

My children are my worst distractions. I rarely use my cell phone in the car, especially if my kids are with me but the noise and arguing between them makes driving hard. I have explained how I cannot look back at them, hold hands with them or look toward everything they point at but they are young - hopefully when they get a bit older, things will be easier.

Thank goodness they are all firmly strapped in carseats. I can't imagine the distractions if they were climbing everywhere like in the old days :)

November 3, 2008 - 2:02pm

I think I would have to agree. I know when I talk on the cell phone, I almost am visualizing who I am talking to and what I am talking about more than seeing and reacting to what's in front of me.

We've always had distractions in our cars. Eating and drinking, switching stations, changing the cassette or CD all require at least a few seconds of switched focus. Studies have shown that teens have more accidents when they have more than one passenger in the car. And if we're sleepy, or we're taking the dog to the vet, or the baby's crying in the back seat, there's that much more to pay attention to other than what's right outside our windshield. It's all dangerous, because a moving car can easily hurt or kill another person. But we can't stop it all.

I like to hope that, slowly, we're going to learn to multitask even better than we do now, and that when it doesn't work, we're going to use our common sense and learn to back off. Not that long ago, we could only get phone calls at home or work. Now it's very likely that we have both a home phone and a cell phone, and that if one of them rings, we also have a television or stereo on, that we're on the computer, texting, faxing, making a grocery list and getting a snack, all back-to-back.

In some ways, it's a crazy way to live at all -- whether we're in the car or the home -- and we need to focus on being more in the moment no matter what we're doing. But in other ways, we're learning to juggle more, just because more exists in our world.

November 3, 2008 - 9:34am
EmpowHER Guest

I think this is certainly true. Driving is such a mindless behavior. I know, for me, I tend to think of everything that is going on in my life while driving and I hardly pay attention to the actual behavior that I am doing.

I talk on the phone, text message, I smoke, I drink (non-alcoholic beverages), eat, reach in the back of my car for my purse, etc while driving. Most of the time, I smoke and talk on the phone also which is really reassuring. Driving is so mindless, even having a conversation with the co-passenger will remove my attention from the road. Luckily, I have only been in one accident which was not due to my muti-tasking but as a result of a non-resident of the US pulling into oncoming traffic.

I think there are many things that cause accidents and most are due to impairments. I think there are too many things that are found in the comfort of our own vehicles that are distracting. Examples: radios, televisions, GPS systems, etc. Technology has most certainly caused many distractions in our abilities.

Can we stop drivers from utilizing these great gadgets? I doubt it, even with laws. The best thing we can do as drivers is to be mindful of our skills as well as the others around us. Although, sometimes accidents are inevitable.

November 2, 2008 - 4:07pm
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