Multitasking is impossible for human beings. The human mind can only focus on one thinking task at a time. People who claim to be multitaskers don’t truly work on two tasks simultaneously. Instead, they merely switch back and forth between the two. Each switch-over requires several seconds or longer of recovery, which makes multitasking inefficient.
When multitasking between driving and another task, the person is vulnerable to traffic changes that demand their immediate response. This vulnerability happens when their attention is directed away from driving, and during their recovery period when shifting their focus back to the road. Because of this, the following driving claims made by multitaskers are false:
It’s Safe to Multitask at Stop Lights and Intersections
It takes time to assess the traffic situation at intersections. If you suddenly stop texting and simply step on the accelerator when the light turns green, you may get into a car accident with a another motorist attempting to left turn in front of you or get hit by a car running a red light.
Pulling into traffic from a side road requires watching for traffic gaps and timing approaching cars. In addition, you must look for pedestrians crossing the intersection. Again, you can’t immediately do this after engaged in another distracting task. An instant traffic assessment is impossible. In fact, research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concludes that recovery from a distraction can take as long as 27 seconds.
If I Don’t Use My Cell Phone or Other Gadgets, I’m Not Distracted
Distracted driving doesn’t just apply to tech gadgets, it applies to anything that takes your mind or eyes off the road. This means that wandering thoughts, changing the radio dial, eating, grooming, or even extreme states of emotion are distractions that take your mental or eye focus off the road.
Distracted Driving Is Less Dangerous Than Drunk Driving
People who consider drunk drivers a menace to the driving public could be equally dangerous because of their distracted driving habits. When your eyes are off the road, you’re driving blind. When your mental focus is elsewhere, your ability to quickly respond to changing traffic situations is impaired. In fact, during the 27 second delay mentioned previously, you are in an impaired state. This slows down your reaction time and ability to make quick judgments.
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