|Watch for gorillas.|
Maybe not, according to a study presented to the British Psychological Society.
Researchers at the University College Cork (and Dublin) say we only have a set amount of attention--and it needs to be on traffic and the road.
This is called the perpetual load theory--once we have put our attention to the maximum load of info, other info is not processed.
They used a full-size driving simulator and tested whether listening to the radio would affect the ability to see or take in other info.
Thirty-six drivers took part. Half were told to listen for when the traffic reporter switched from a male to a female voice (low attention needed). The other half wer asked to listen for updates on a specific road (requiring high attention).
Every so often as they drove, a gorilla or elephant would be at the side of the road.
In the low-attention load group, 71% spotted these. In the high attention group, less than a quarter saw the out-of-place animals.
The high attention group also performed less well in obeying yield signals, recalling what vehicles had passed, and in actual driving--meaning lane position, speed, and reaction time to hazards.
Hmmm...Think that one over. That was the radio--it didn't even count the screaming kid in the back, the yammering spouse, the putting on of makeup and eating of breakfast.