Cell-Phone-Induced Driver Distraction

The newspapers are replete with scores of vehicular accidents.  One reads of how a delivery van careens off the railing of a skyway and lands on top of a passenger bus underneath, crushing several people to death.  Another article will be about a cargo truck losing its brakes and running through the red light at a busy intersection and in the process slams broadside into private vehicle.  Still another might be of an SUV that crashes against a flimsy construction barrier and lands into a deep excavation.  These dangers are pressing problems that need to be addressed because the dangers of driving while on a cell-phone are real and dire.

The article entitled, “Cell-Phone-Induced Driver Distraction,” by David Strayer and Frank Drews, presents their study which covers the inattentiveness that results from the use of a cell-phone while driving.  The study shows that their tests have proven that drivers are unable to pay close attention to any objects while they are driving.  It has been shown that talking on the cell phone makes the driver more unaware of the surroundings that they are in and as a result they are more likely to miss traffic signals and other vehicles on the road.

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This resulting blindness has been termed inattention blindness is caused by the dual-task interface that most drivers have to face while they are on the road.  It does not really matter that the driver is using a hands-free device for their cell phone because they still do not pay full attention to other objects while they are busy conversing.  This alarming drop in attention and resulting blindness has even been theorized as one of the major causes of accidents on the road.  Since the driver moves the less relevant information to other parts of the brain, the driver is unable to focus on the task that he or she should be focused on which is driving.

All too often, when we read of these things we deal with them by insulating ourselves with anesthetic reassurances that the likelihood is remote, that this are the dire warnings of alarmists, that it cannot happen to us – after all, we are not as ‘’careless’’ as the others.  All that can be said in answer to this is that do not let the morgues and cemeteries get crowded with like-minded motorists.

It is not too late to stop using the cell phone while driving.  Resist answering that phone; it is probably not that important.  It can wait.  Your life and those of others depend on it


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