According to the National Safety Council (NSC), hands-free devices often are seen as a solution to the risks of driver distraction because they help eliminate two obvious risks:
- Visual, or looking away from the road
- Manual, removing your hands from the steering wheel
However, a third type of distraction can occur when using cell phones while driving: cognitive, which is taking your mind off the road.
Focusing on Distraction
The human brain is not built to perform two tasks at the same time. Instead, the brain handles tasks sequentially, switching between one task and another. Because the brain can juggle tasks very rapidly, this leads us to mistakenly believe that we are doing two tasks at the same time, when in reality, the brain is switching attention between tasks but actually performing only one task at a time.
If you’re thinking about talking on phone or sending a text while driving, you’re simply not capable of focusing completely either activity. While your brain is shifting focus from one thing to the other, it often becomes overloaded, resulting in slower reaction time and reduced driving performance. So even if your device is out of your hand, it’s still occupying vital space in your mind.
Eliminating Distracted Driving
The best way to avoid distracted driving is to make a concerted effort to change your behavior and alter the way you think about driving by doing the following:
- Never text, email, or talk on the phone while driving.
- Tell family and friends that you won’t be answering your phone or texting while you drive.
- Don’t call or text anyone else who is driving.
- Never use your phone when children are in the car – they can be distracting enough.
- Look up the directions before you start driving, and pull over to read a map or check your GPS.
Old habits die hard, but the fact is that hands-free devices won’t solve the distracted driving problem. Driving simply requires our full attention.
If you are involved in an accident in which distracted driving may have been a factor you may need legal advice. Contact our experienced team of attorneys for guidance.
Image courtesy of Lord Jim/flickr.