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Myths about Multitasking and Driving

on 02 April, 2014

Myth: Talking to someone on a cell phone is no more distracting than talking to someone in the car.

Reality: A 2008 study by the University of Utah found that drivers distracted by cell phones are more oblivious to changing traffic conditions because they are the only ones in the conversation who are aware of the road. In contrast, drivers with adult passengers in their cars have an extra set of eyes and ears to help alert the diver about oncoming traffic problems. Adult passengers also tend to talk less when traffic is challenging. People on the other end of a driver’s cell phone are not aware of traffic challenges.

Myth: Hands-free devices eliminate the danger of cell phone use during driving.

Reality: Whether the phone is handheld or hands-free, cell phone conversations while driving are risky because the distraction that conversation causes the brain remains the same. Drivers talking on cell phones can miss seeing up to 50 percent of their driving environments, including pedestrians and red lights. This phenomenon is also known as “inattention blindness.”

Myth: Drivers talking on cell phones have a quicker reaction time than those who are driving under the influence.

Reality: A controlled driving simulator study conducted by the University of Utah found that drivers using cell phones had slower reaction times than drivers with a .08 blood alcohol content, the legal intoxication limit.