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Cellphone Calls Mangle Driving Skills

Posted on Aug 14, 2006
Driving with celling

Don’t do this anymore.

Driving while talking on your cell cuts by half the brain’s ability to recognize and respond to traffic conditions, according to a study. Says a researcher: “Twentysomethings on a cellphone have the same reaction time as 70-year-olds.”

USA Today via Yahoo News:

Talking on a cellphone while driving sharply reduces brain activity needed to keep track of road conditions and leads drivers to gaze at things without their brains actually seeing them, according to a psychologist at the University of Utah.

Hands-free phones pose the same safety hazards as handheld phones, says psychologist David Strayer, who presented his findings Thursday at the American Psychological Association meeting in New Orleans. His findings were based on lab studies using driving machines with about 500 adults. Among the key findings:

  • Conversations with passengers reduce a driver’s attention, but they aren’t as unsafe as talking on a phone. “Passengers tend to help the driver if they see something hazardous. They might point it out or at least stop talking,” Strayer says.

  • Studies show that talking on a cellphone cuts a driver’s brain activity in half in a key area of the brain needed for noticing traffic conditions.

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    By kboetsj ajyswtmfn, August 18, 2006 at 8:42 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

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    By Todd, August 15, 2006 at 7:22 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Driving while talking on a cell phone should be illegal.  Even when an accident isn’t caused, how many of us have been behind a driver who appears to be in total la-la land, and as you finally pass them they are chatting away, completely oblivious to anything around them?

    A couple of years ago, my town tried to pass a ban on speaking on a cell phone while driving through a school zone.  When I mentioned to the Mayor at the town meeting that not 6 months previously he had been campaigning out in front of the school, during the morning rush / drop off, and that he was even more distracting than a cell phone.

    And referencing the photo accompanying the article, “don’t do this anymore”, I stopped driving on the right side of the car when I moved back from the UK!

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