First of all, I must admit, I watch Oprah from time to time. That being said, I was truly moved by a recent episode which showed how making a phone call or texting while driving can be very dangerous. The show focused on people who were so-called “experts” of driving and texting simultaneously, and asked them to attend two test driving sessions. The first of these tests was with obstacles that the participants had to evade, while the second time they had to evade the same obstacle while they were on the phone or texting.
The obvious results showed that, if they had been on the road, the participants could have either killed or seriously injured people while they were driving while phoning or texting. It was emphasized several times, that if you are talking on the phone or text while behind the wheel of a car, this equates to a scenario that is as dangerous or even 4 times more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol.
Attention is after all a process of “selectively” concentrating on one aspect, and ignoring the other things in the background. Our brain —contrary to common beliefs — does have limits, and cannot do a trillion tasks at one time. Rightfully, we process in an orderly manner, one at a time. There is a good example of the effects of attention; the “cocktail party effect.”
Imagine that you are in a noisy crowded room. If you hear somebody talk about you, you can and will focus all your attention to this conversation, blocking all the “unnecessary” excessive noise and interference of the surroundings. It shows how attention allows one to totally focus on a specific event, and also how one is able to erase, or at least blur everything else.
The same effect can be expected if you are on the phone or text while you are behind the wheel. The moment you start having a conversation or start texting, your attention will be divided, and worse, will be focused mostly on the text or the phone call. The result is decreased attention on the road, compromising the safety of not only the driver, but also anyone else in the vicinity.
So, my advice is do not make a phone call while driving. Do not text while driving. Make your car a “no phone zone.” That call can wait.
Doctor Jay graduated from Korea University medical school and trained at the Korea University Medical School Hospital. He is currently chief executive of Everspring Hospital in Jeju. If you have any questions concerning health matters, ask Dr Jay at email@example.com
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