Your Brain While Driving Distracted
By: Good2GoPublished: April 19, 2016
Most people don’t realize that as incredible as the mind is, it has its limitations. Some people don’t see any problem with texting and driving, or reading and driving, or any other form of distracted driving, but it is extremely unsafe. It immediately put the driver’s life and the lives of others around them at risk. Until we tackle this issue directly we will continue to experience the tragedies that accompany this dangerous practice.
A pivotal step in eliminating distracted driving is educating drivers. By providing people with the facts and the scientific data surrounding distracted driving, we hope to change people’s mindset.
Myths about Distracted Driving
Myth #1 – Drivers can multitask.
Reality – Contrary to popular opinion the human brain can not multitask effectively. Without getting too scientific, studies show that the brain works optimally when focusing on one task at a time. The illusion of multitasking comes about because the mind moves so fast between the multiple tasks it appears to us that we’re doing two or more things at once. The more complicated the task the cognitive (thinking) function of the brain needs to work harder.
Example – Someone is walking while chewing gum. On the surface it appears this person is multitasking and some might use this logic to defend distracted driving. They’re not the same at all! Driving while talking on the phone or texting is an attempt to perform 2 cognitive tasks at the same time. Driving has many variables to it and needs the full attention of our brains. On the other hand, walking and chewing gum involves a thinking and non-thinking task, which requires less brain activity to function safely.
Myth #2 – Talking to someone on a cell phone is no different than talking to someone in the car.
Reality – Although talking to another person in the car is a distraction, they also add another set of eyes and ears into the mix. When you’re by yourself you’re much more aware of changing traffic conditions as determined by a 2008 study cited by the University of Utah. The bottom line, less awareness means more chances for dangerous maneuvers, swerving, hard breaking and possibly harmful or deadly events.
Myth #3 – Hands free devices eliminate the danger of cell phone use during driving.
Reality – The reality of the situation is that whether you’re using a handheld or hands free device you’re still driving distracted. Hands free devices have reduced or eliminated 2 of the 3 distractions involved with the hand held device – visual and manual distractions. Research shows there is little difference in the effect on the 3rd distraction – cognitive distraction. The distraction level in our brain while driving using either type of device is increased, thus leaving us more vulnerable to problems. In fact, the parietal lobe’s function, where brain activity for driving can be measured, is distinctly reduced by up to 37% when the use of a cell phone is added by the driver.
There is also a phenomenon known as “inattention blindness”, which has similar effects to tunnel vision. Research shows that even though you are looking straight ahead, if you are talking on your cell phone your field of vision is 50 % less than what you think it is. You are missing important pieces of your driving environment, such as red lights, stop signs, pedestrians.
Now, if we haven’t gotten your attention yet as to how dangerous holding on to our current beliefs about cell phone use is, the next reality versus myth should.
Myth #4 – Drivers talking on cell phones have slower reaction times than those who are driving under the influence.
Utah University set up a controlled driving simulator study with drivers using cell phones pitted against drivers with a blood alcohol level of .08, the legal limit for intoxication. I’m sure you have already guessed, but yes, the cell phone users actually had slower reaction times than the drinkers did. Now how is that for a sobering thought?
You don’t have to wait to make a difference in becoming a safer driver. You can make the roads a safer place right now. All you have to do is turn your phone off!
Good2Go Auto Insurance is dedicated to driver safety and the elimination of dangerous driving practices. We offer discounts to drivers that join us in our mission to making roads safer. Good2Go rewards drivers that install a text blocking device in their cars with an instant 5% Cell Phone Safety discount. By driving safer you can save even more money on your auto insurance! Drive safe and legal for less with Good2Go. Get your free quote today!