The Myth of Multitasking While Driving
Drivers who multitask take notice: your brain cannot effectively do two things at once. Recent studies by scientists have shown that our brains are unable to do two demanding tasks, such as driving and talking, as well simultaneously as it can do each individually. If you attempt to multitask while driving, you’re needlessly putting yourself and others in danger.
Scientists say that when you try to do two tasks at the same time, your brain is not actually performing both tasks simultaneously. What really is happening is that your brain shifts its resources between each task without you being conscious of it. In essence, since your brain cannot devote all of its processing power to both tasks at the same time, you cannot perform each task to the best of your abilities.
Effects of Multitasking While Driving
Your natural inability to effectively concentrate on more than one task at a time is not problematic if you are doing two tasks that are not dangerous or do not require much concentration, such as talking to your spouse while doing dishes. However, it is much different when talking while doing a complicated task such as driving.
Studies have demonstrated that drivers talking on a cell phone can only recall half of the objects that they have passed on the road. The reason for this is that the brain does not process all information that is available As the brain struggles to switch between tasks, these moments of unawareness, can make the difference between life and death. Since a car traveling 55 miles per hour covers 80 feet per second, an accident can easily occur during these moments.
Experts also say that it is a myth that a hands-free phone is safer than a handheld one. A conversation, whether on a handheld or hands-free device, has the same distracting effect on the brain’s ability to concentrate on the road.
The dangers of using a cell phone while driving are well documented. Drivers using cell phones, ironically, react more slowly than a person with a .08 blood-alcohol concentration, the level at which a person is considered too intoxicated to operate a motor vehicle.
Officials say that it is unfortunate that the laws have not caught up to address this reality, but predict that they most likely will as the public becomes more aware of the danger.