The Science of Addiction, Multitasking, and Distracted Driving

In recent years, increasingly more states in the U.S. have made using a cell phone while driving a primary offense because of its dangers. For example, researchers at the University of Utah found that talking on a cell phone while driving quadruples the chance of an accident. To better understand distracted driving, we’ll take a look at what brain science says about cell phone addiction and multitasking.

What Is Distracted Driving?

Woman eating and drinking while drivingDistracted driving includes any activity that diverts a driver’s attention from the act of driving safely and attentively. Though the spotlight in the conversation surrounding distracted driving falls primarily on cell phone use, distracted driving also encompasses anything that distracts:

  • Manually. Using a cell phone, eating, drinking, changing a song on your smartphone, and grooming are all activities that take your hands off the wheel, creating opportunity for disaster.
  • Visually. It’s important your eyes stay on the road, but a cell phone screen, billboards, changing the radio station, or even the passengers in your vehicle can steal your sight from the road.
  • Cognitively. Mental awareness is key to safe driving. When you’re thinking about a late work project or even carrying on a conversation either in person or on a hands-free device, your brain is unable to fully focus on the act of driving.

Brain Science and Distracted Driving

Though studies continue to report the dangers of distracted driving, the AAA Foundation reports that many people still use their phones and engage in other distractions while driving. Why? Just like a drug releases dopamine into the brain and creates a feel-good experience, getting a text or eating food provide a positive reinforcement when you respond to the notification ping or dip your hand into the bag of chips.

Additionally, our brains trick us into thinking the notification on the phone, changing the song on the radio, or talking with your friend in the back seat is more important than it actually is. Therefore, the urge to engage in distractions becomes more significant in a person’s thoughts. In the end, we can all become better drivers by fighting the urge to drive distracted with a bit of will power.

Multitasking Is a Myth

Unfortunately, those who do drive while using a cell phone or engaging in another distraction often cite the ability to multitask as an excuse to drive distracted. The science shows that the brain cannot multitask, but instead only:

  • Switches between two or more activities rapidly
  • Focuses on only one activity at a time
  • Experiences slower reaction times when engaged in distraction

Legal Help After an Accident

If you’ve been the victim of a distracted driving accident, you need experienced legal help. The attorneys at Tavss Fletcher are prepared to fight for your just compensation. Contact us today by starting a live online chat on our website.

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