Car accidents happen all the time. Often, news agencies report that a single vehicle accident is “under investigation” or that the cause of the accident is unknown, though drugs and alcohol were not involved. Generally, if any cause at all is released, it is simply reported as “operator error.” A new report from the National Safety Council sheds some light on how operator error occurs.

One thing at a time

The NSC said, “Contrary to popular belief, the human brain cannot multitask. Driving and talking on a cell phone are two thinking tasks that involve many areas of the brain. Instead of processing both simultaneously, the brain rapidly switches between two cognitive activities.”

The myth of multitasking convinces people that, when confronted with multiple simultaneous tasks, they are able to perform all tasks equally well at the same time. This is simply not true. Rapidly switching between different activities and modes of thought is possible, but means that you are less effective at every task individually.

This is borne out by several key points illustrated by the NSC’s report. The report states talking on the phone “and driving are both thinking tasks.” When you are talking to someone that is not in the vehicle, that person is unaware of traffic conditions and cannot adjust the conversation in response to road hazards, heavy traffic, or sudden maneuvers by other drivers. Hands-free devices don’t change that situation, as you still have to think about the conversation and driving.

A University of Utah study found that drivers engaged in a conversation had a slower reaction time that those who were intoxicated behind the wheel. These reports agree that the roadways are safer without distracted drivers.

You can also help to reduce and eliminate distracted driving by putting your phone on silent in the car or turning it off completely, and waiting until you have arrived at your destination to respond to any messages or calls. We at the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm have adopted the American Association for Justice’s Safe Driving Policy, pledging to keep our employees and their families safer by stopping communication when we learn that the other party is on the road.

Distracted driving causes accidents and can cost lives. Drivers using a handheld device are four times are likely to be involved in an accident, and account for 21% of all traffic crashes in the United States. If you or someone you know has been injured because of a distracted driver, please visit our offices in Nashville, Gallatin, or Knoxville, or contact us today for a free consultation with a dedicated car crash lawyer.