Scientific Research Delivers a Deeper Understanding of Distracted Driving Dangers
Drivers understand that using a cellphone while driving a motor vehicle is dangerous, and this behavior is a serious threat to public safety. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, contact our firm for a free consultation.
The Three Main Types of Driving Distractions
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), anything that draws your attention away from operating a motor vehicle is a distraction. For example, eating while driving, text messaging, reading, or using a navigation system are a few examples of distracted driving. The CDC says that distracted driving can endanger the lives of you, your passengers, and other motorists.
The CDC says that there are three primary types of distraction:
- Visual: Visual distractions take your eyes off the road.
- Manual: Manual distractions take your hands off the steering wheel.
- Cognitive: Cognitive distractions take your mind off driving.
Drivers using their cell phones while driving creates a "recognition error." This driving behavior includes distractions outside and inside the vehicle, inattention, and surveillance deficits. According to the CDC, recognition errors are the most common form of driving error, and this mistake accounts for about 90 percent of distracted driving accidents. Drivers who weave through traffic while speeding endanger everyone else on the road. Moreover, most people believe that they can multitask. The reality is that multitasking while driving can overwhelm the brain's ability to see and respond to hazards.
Cognitive Psychologist, George Miller, states that there are limits as to how much information the brain can focus on at one time. Miller's research showed that the mind could only handle about seven bits of information at any given time. Subsequent research might prove that the human brain could be even more limited and only handle 3 to 5 pieces of information simultaneously.
Harvard University researchers conducted an experiment named "The Invisible Gorilla." The study shows the limits of our brain's ability to interpret and perceive data when faced with numerous sources of stimulus. Study participants watched a video of basketball players who were passing basketballs back and forth. The experiment's subjects were asked to count the number of passes between the players. At some point, a gorilla walked across the screen. About 50% of the participants didn't even see the gorilla. The researchers believe that the subjects looked at the gorilla, but their ability to process all of the information basically caused the gorilla to be invisible to some of the participants. This research could prove that the human brain is limited in its perception and field of vision. Many people may not realize the brain's limited ability to process information. Experts believe this is why texting drivers can be seen as just as bad as a threat to others on the road as drunk drivers. Many people understand taking our hands off of the wheel can is dangerous, but they might not understand the increased dangers of taking their eyes off of the road. These limitations may also explain why drivers having "deep thoughts" or who are engaged in deep conversation with their passengers are as distracted as drivers using their cellphones.
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