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Friday, August 26, 2005

Conversations On Cellphones Can Be Deadly

A study has reported that it's not the type of cellphone you use but it's the conversation that is really deadly.
The study came from the 25th issue of the Applied Cognitive Psychology journal.

Note what it says the study showed:

For the study, almost 100 students took part in experiments in which they drove virtual cars. While driving, they had to provide answers about the layout of buildings on the University of Illinois campus, or check that statements made by others about relative positions of the buildings were correct. The researchers monitored various aspects of the students' driving while they performed these tasks.

Participants drove a car simulator that was an automatic shift 1998 Saturn SL. The experiments simulated a straight, two-lane rural highway with no intersections or turns. Simulated wind gusts increased the difficulty of driving, as did the presence of another car that drove erratically ahead of the virtual car.

Overall, the researchers found that both speaking and listening on the phone reduced the drivers' competence on the road, resulting in slower driving, more trouble staying in the proper lane and/or not keeping a safe distance from the unwieldy car ahead.

This scenario illustrates that point:

Okay, you are driving on the road and you can clearly see everything.

Now, your wife calls and says, "Honey, where did you leave my car keys?".

Your brain at this moment shifts gears, from watching the road to virtually scanning your house: the kitchen, the bedroom, the family room etc. looking for those keys.

When your brain does that it's really impossible to totally focus your attention on the road. Your reflexes are delayed . . . and that's how accidents happen.

Don't believe me? Ok, go to the top of this post and begin reading again. This time I want you to visualize your whole house. Go from room to room, and try to read this post.

I guarantee you can't do both. You'll probably notice that the screen goes blurry as you do this exercise.

You're only reading and not driving a car that needs to be controlled constantly because of the dynamic conditions of the road.

So, I hope you learn something. You should only talk and drive in an emergency.

Just pull over to the side of the road and talk there. Yes, you may lose some time but at least you won't lose your life!

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  • It's a empathy thing too. When you have the same conversation with a passenger in the car they will allow you pauses while you negotiate hazards they that too can see.

    When you're on the phone you try to maintain a flow to the conversation that is inconsistent with driving.

    So, the education should extend not only to those holding the phone but to those on the other end.

    If you know you need detailed info and the person you've rung happens to be driving ask them to call you back.

    By Blogger Sarah, at 4:30 PM  

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