The thoughts, ideas, findings, and fancies of a Catholic student at Our Lady's University.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Study finds cell phones take up driver attention

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Using a cellphone -- even with a hands-free device -- may distract drivers because the brain cannot handle both tasks, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

Imaging tests show the brain directs its resources to either visual input or auditory input, but cannot fully activate both at the same time, the team at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found.

"Our research helps explain why talking on a cell phone can impair driving performance, even when the driver is using a hands-free device," said Steven Yantis, a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences who led the study.

"Directing attention to listening effectively 'turns down the volume' on input to the visual parts of the brain," he added in a statement.

(read the rest here)

I found it ironic that I read about this study 3 days after I almost got in a head-on collision (albeit low-speed, as we were in a parking lot) with a woman on a cell phone who swerved into my lane. I ended up swerving out of her way and side-swiping a light pole, which dented up the side door of the van, though it did miss the hinge, so the door still works. Plus, I was in the big van, and she just had a dinky little car, so even if we had collided, I certainly wouldn't have gotten the worst end of the deal. Anyway, now science confirms what we've known all along: don't drive and talk at the same time. And if you're going to anyway, just don't do it around cars that could run over you and not feel it;)

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