Cell Phone Conversations and the Myth of Multi-Tasking


July 28, 2014

While Georgia prohibits all motorists from text messaging while operating a motor vehicle, talking on the phone is not subject to a universal ban. Georgia's disparate treatment of text messaging and talking on cell phones when driving is mirrored by a number of other states. Georgia does restrict ALL cell phone use for novice drivers and bus drivers. However, our state's treatment of cell phone calling and driving is based on the misconception that people can effective multi-task behind the wheel. The reality is that using a cell phone for any purpose while driving is potentially dangerous.

The obsession that many people have with their cell phone is readily apparent. Approximately 66 percent of drivers admitted to talking on their cell phone while driving during the previous thirty day period according to a survey conducted by AAA. Further, half of those who admitted using their cell phone while driving indicated that they did so "regularly" or "fairly often".

Many people presume that multi-tasking while driving is fairly safe because Georgia allows people to talk and drive. However, evidence regarding the impact of cell phone use on driving indicates this assumption is wrong. Motorists who talk on handheld cell phones while driving are four times as likely to be involved in an auto accident. Further, the National Safety Council estimates that one in five drivers involved in car crashes are talking on their phone at the time of their crash. The Atlanta personal injury law firm of Montlick and Associates has provided key information debunking common myths about talking on a cell phone while driving.

Myth 1: Drivers are able to safely multi-task by engaging in a conversation while operating a motor vehicle.

While many people accept the myth that the mind is capable of multi-tasking, this assumption is based on a fundamental misunderstanding about how the brain processes information. Many people presume that the brain processes information related to both driving and a phone conversation simultaneously. However, the mind cannot focus on separate cognitive functions of this nature at the same time. The brain juggles these tasks by focuses a hundred percent of the driver's attention back and forth between the tasks. The notion of multi-tasking is often characterized as the ability to "walk and chew gum at the same time." This simple comparison is misleading because chewing gum does not requires significant cognitive functioning. The individual is essentially engaging in one task that requires significant mental activity and one that does not constitute a thinking activity. When a person talks on a cell phone and drives, the person is engaged in two separate thinking activities.

Myth 2: Talking on a cell phone is safer than driving while impaired by alcohol.

A study conducted by the University of Utah found that drivers using a cell phone have slower reaction times than drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent, which is the legal limit for a DUI arrest.

Myth 3: Since I can carry on a conversation with a passenger in my car, there is no difference when I engage in a conversation on a cell phone.

Researchers at the University of Utah conducted a study that revealed drivers talking on cell phones tend to be more distracted than motorists talking to a passenger. The researchers concluded that passengers provide another set of eyes and ears, which mitigates the distraction of the driver. Further, a passenger in the vehicle can adjust conversation patterns according to the level of traffic whereas someone on the other end of a cell phone cannot determine when driving conditions require extra focus by a driver.

Myth 4: My multi-tasking does not present a risk because I use a Bluetooth device.

Hands-free use of a cell phone does not eliminate the mental distraction caused by engaging in a phone conversation. A study by Carnegie Mellon University found that activity in the parietal lobe of the brain, which processes visual movement, decreased by 37 percent when a person tried to simultaneously listen to language.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 30 Years of Experience to Work For You

Because our Atlanta car accident lawyers see the tragic consequences of distracted driving, we urge all Georgia motorists to turn their cell phone off when they are behind the wheel. If you have been injured in a traffic accident caused by a distracted driver, you might have a right to financial compensation. Our attorneys at Montlick and Associates have been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast for over thirty years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Montlick Law

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.