June 03, 2008

Put your cell phone on the dash

Last night, I called my dad to make plans for tomorrow evening. As I chatted with him, some construction workers on the side of the road shouted at me. I didn't realize why until I had finished my call and pulled up behind another vehicle.

Crap. My headlights were off!

Recent studies found that drivers (such as myself) are distracted when they are on the phone while driving. This level of distraction can be equivalent to drunk driving! There's MADD... pretty soon there'll be MACC (Mothers Against Cell Calls.)

Yet, people consider it an "efficient" use of their time when they multitask while driving.

So what can be done to ameliorate this situation?

Devoting 100% of your attention to your road is the best way, of course.

Barring that, NY Times has this tip by Amit Almor, an associate professor of psychology at University of South Carolina:

The volunteers did much better on their visual tasks when they were just
listening, as opposed to preparing to speak or speaking. When they were
listening, if the demands on their brains became too much, they could just tune
out what they were hearing.
It may be, the study said, that when people talk to someone
who is not present, the visual-processing parts of their brain create a mental
representation of where the other person might be. This suggests, Dr. Almor
said, that using cellphones may be safer if the sound comes from the front.

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