Cognitive distraction is just one type of distraction drivers can experience while behind the wheel. When motorists are engaged in two tasks simultaneously, their brain bounces back and forth between the two activities. According to the National Safety Council, this leaves moments in time where the motorist is not concentrating on the road at all. During these moments, a driver’s ability to respond to objects in the road, pedestrians, bicyclists, bad weather conditions and other drivers is compromised. This can lead to serious accidents, death and injuries.
Although hand-held cellphones are not banned for drivers in Texas, they are banned in many states across the state. Drivers may turn to using hands-free cellphones as a result. However, a study published by AAA found that talking on a hands-free cellphone may not be much safer than talking on a hand-held device. Researchers looked at how drivers respond to cognitive distraction as they are engaged in other activities while behind the wheel. Drivers were asked to perform a number of tasks, including talking with a passenger, talking on a hand-held cellphone, talking on a hands-free cellphone, using a voice-activated device, listening to a book-on-tape and listening to the radio. Drivers’ blood pressure, heart rate, brain activity and response time were measured.
Researchers found that drivers experienced a significant amount of cognitive distraction when they used both the hands-free and hand-held cellphones. It is crucial that drivers avoid using all cellular devices while behind the wheel in order to avoid becoming distracted and involved in a serious accident.