The Multitasking Myth: Why Distracted Driving Is So Dangerous

multitasking and driving dangers

From incoming text messages and breaking news alerts to phone calls and unfinished makeup, there are plenty of reasons to look away from the road while driving. It only takes a second to respond to these distractions—or so we think—but can we really multitask and drive safely?

It is a myth that humans can multitask.

We all believe we can multitask, and in fact, research shows it makes us feel more emotionally satisfied with our work. No wonder it’s so tempting to try and focus on multiple things at once. Unfortunately, studies have proven the human brain can’t actually juggle more than one task at a time. We may think we are multitasking (driving, while talking on the phone, while listening to music, while checking the update on the game…). But, our brain is really “task switching,” or switching our focus from one thing to the next with incredible speed. We’re fooling ourselves.

When you attempt to do two things at one time, you are actually robbing your cognitive power and attention from one task and using it on something else. For example, if you are focusing on only one task—driving—your brain gives nearly 100 percent of its attention to that task. If you throw in another task that requires cognitive attention—listening to the radio—some portion of that 100 percent is deducted. Even simply listening to the radio while driving reduces the dedicated brain focus to driving by about 37 percent, according to CNN.

How multitasking leads to dangerous driving.

You can get by with multitasking at home when you’re not putting anyone in immediate danger. But, multitasking while driving can have severe consequences. In fact, the National Transportation Safety Board reports that texting while driving is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit.

When you use your phone for talking, texting, or navigation, it pulls your attention to something besides safely operating a vehicle. Did you know cars driving at 55 mph will travel the length of a football field in just five seconds? It may seem okay to spare a few seconds to check a text, but those seconds can cost your life.

How to avoid multitasking while driving.

  • Turn off audible and visual notifications on your phone
  • Plan your day in advance
  • Save multitasking for other parts of your day, such as while in line at the grocery store or eating your lunch
  • Pull over to talk on your phone, send text messages, set your GPS, etc.

Contact Harrell & Harrell after car accident injuries.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1,000 people are injured every day in the United States due to an accident that is related to distracted driving. If you have been injured in a car accident because the driver was distracted, it is critical that you speak to a qualified car accident lawyer in Jacksonville for advice. Talk to us at Harrell & Harrell for a free consultation to discuss your case.