How many times have you fiddled with the radio station while you were driving? How often have you eaten a drive-thru meal or sipped a coffee while your car was in motion? Have you ever given your GPS instructions while you were en route to your destination?
All of these actions are so common that it’s hard to even think of them as examples of dangerous driving behavior – but they are.
Multitasking behind the wheel of a car shouldn’t happen
The hustle and bustle of modern life has given rise to the idea that multitasking – doing more than one task at a time – is simply the most effective method of time management. The ability to multitask well is actually a point of pride for a lot of people, and many equate multitasking with intelligence and skill.
The only problem with that notion is that multitasking is a myth. The human brain simply isn’t cut out to do more than one thing at a time. If you force yourself to try, you may create the illusion of doing two (or more) things at once, but what you’re really doing is switching your attention rapidly between activities – without properly focusing on either.
It’s easy to see how this can be a problem for drivers who don’t realize just how deeply ingrained the multitasking habit can be. Essentially, when you try to do anything but focus on controlling your vehicle and watching traffic, you’re engaging in distracted driving. The distractions can be:
- Manual: These include things such as reaching into your bag to see if your cellphone is where it should be or trying to eat a sandwich without spilling anything on your clothes. Manual distractions compromise your ability to control your vehicle effectively.
- Visual: These include things that cause you to divert your eyes from the road, such as glancing down to read a text message on your phone or looking at the map on your GPS device. Even momentarily diverting your eyes can dramatically increase the chances that you won’t see something in the road and end up in a wreck.
- Cognitive: These include anything that diverts your attention and decreases your mental engagement with the task of driving. It can include everything from daydreaming to animated conversations with your passengers.
Now that you know that multitasking is a myth, you can take steps to reduce or eliminate your own distracted driving habits – and that will keep you safer out there on the road. If you do end up in a wreck, find out more about your right to compensation for your losses if another’s conduct caused your harm.