Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Forget texting, even listening while driving can be dangerous

Watch for gorillas.
Tim Newman, Medical News Today, asks if you were listening on the radio, would you notice a gorilla beside the road?

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.

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