Do you ever split your attention between several things at one time by multitasking? Right now, for example; are you listening to music while you read this? Perhaps another conversation? Or maybe you are having a snack? While you may think that none of these side activities are taking your attention away from reading this post, the truth is- they are.
Many people make the (inaccurate) assumption that they are ‘good’ multitaskers. They believe that they have a high enough mental capacity to focus on more than one thing at a time. The surprising and startling truth, however, is that this is a myth. Whether you are driving a moving truck on your cross-country move, or simply driving your car to meet a friend for dinner, you need to understand the dangers of multitasking while driving.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), “human brains do not perform two tasks at the same time. Instead, the brain handles tasks sequentially, switching between one task and another… In reality, the brain is switching attention between one task and another- performing only one task at a time.”
Face the Facts: Driving and multitasking is a myth. These stats from the NSC speak for themselves…
- The activity area of the brain that processes moving visual images- important to safe driving- decreases by 1/3 when listening to a phone conversation.
- Your brain can miss up to 50% of your driving environment when you are talking on a cell phone behind the wheel.
Understand the Why: “All human brains have a limited capacity for attention. When there is too much information, the brain must decide which information is selected for to pay attention to. . . performance is impaired when information is not encoded, and this is why people miss critical warnings of navigation and and safety hazards when engaged in cell phone conversations while driving.” (source: NSC)
Don’t make excuses. There is no phone call, text message, or email that is worth your life, or the life of another motorist. We live in a society that is focused on efficiency and rewards productivity, but don’t lose sight of the real risk that is posed when you attempt to multitask and drive. You are taking a very dangerous risk.
Spread the Word: Once you’ve overcome your desire to multitask and become a focused driver, help spread the work. Talk to friends, family, and colleagues about the dangers of distracted driving. Many people easily forget about the dangers and fall quickly into poor habits. If you care about them, remind them.
Remember the risk: This infographic provides some startling information about multitasking:
For more information on driving safety, check out our other distracted driving posts here.
Are you surprised at any of this information on multitasking? Does this motivate you to pay attention when you are behind the wheel? Let us know what you think below in the comments section.