Four common myths of distracted driving

Distracted driving is known to be very dangerous and cause car accidents every year in Tennessee. While it is common knowledge that distracted driving increases the risk of being in a car crash, there are many myths regarding distracted driving that the National Safety Council would like to dispel.

The NSC say that there are many myths surrounding distracted driving due to studies contradicting each other. One of the biggest myths of distracted driving involves drivers who use hands-free cellphone devices. While some studies have said that this is safer, other studies have reported the opposite.

Below is a list of the four most common distracted driving myths, with all of them involving the premise that drivers can safely multitask behind the wheel without increasing the risk of being in a car wreck.

Myth 1: drivers can multitask. Despite what many people believe, no one is good at multitasking behind the wheel. Talking on a cellphone and driving are both cognitive tasks and forces a person's brain to switch between the two tasks, decreasing their driving ability and increasing the risk of being in a crash.

Myth 2: Talking to someone on the phone is the same as talking to someone in the car. Studies have shown that drivers talking on the phone are more distracted and are oblivious to changing traffic because they are the only person aware of the road. The study also found that passengers in the car tend to change or adjust the conversation when traffic becomes more challenging as well as they can help point out potential traffic problems.

Myth 3: Hands-free devices eliminate the danger of cellphone use while driving. Hands-free cellphone conversations are still dangerous because it distracts the driver's brain. In fact, a study found that when a person is listening to language, their ability to process movement can decrease by 37 percent while driving.

Myth 4: A driver talking on a cellphone has a faster reaction time than a person driving under the influence. A study found that drivers using cellphones actually had a slower reaction time compared to drivers with a blood alcohol content of .08.

While many companies are trying to find different and possibly safer ways to allow drivers to talk hands-free, there is an easy way to reduce the risk of being in a car accident: put down the cellphone and concentrate on the road.

Source: EHS Today, "Infographic: Four Distracted Driving Myths," Laura Walter, May 24, 2013

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