What are the Dangers of Multitasking While Driving?

In today’s fast paced lifestyle, we all love the idea of multitasking. Our smart phones can easily be linked to our computers, and even our cars. This allows us to stay “plugged in” on the go. Unfortunately, many people fail to consider the dangers of multitasking while driving. Yes, technology allows us to use or vehicles as an extension of our offices, but at what risk?

What are the Dangers of Multitasking While Driving?

Multitasking while driving is considered a form of distracted driving, but it impacts drivers differently than texting while driving. Multitasking while driving is considered a cognitive distraction, meaning that the activity is taking your mind off the road. But this goes deeper than your mind being momentarily split between two tasks.

According to research, when two activities require the same cognitive or perceptual resource, they overlap. This causes contention, which leads to a reduction in performance of both tasks. That means that while driving, any activity that uses brain power will reduce your ability to drive properly. Driving requires an extensive amount of brain power to:

  • Process visual information
  • Coordinate movements of hands and feet
  • Predict the actions of others

Any activity that splits our attention takes brain power away from what is required in order to drive safely.

David Meyer, who is a psychology professor at the University of Michigan likens multitasking while driving to driving while intoxicated. He stated that “if you’re driving while cell-phoning, then your performance is going to be as poor as if you were legally drunk.”

The fact is, our brains can only process so much information at a time before the resources given to one task are pulled for the other. If you are driving and decide to adjust your GPS, program your sound settings, or respond to an email, you are risking pulling brain power from driving. This can result in your not driving safely, not being aware of your surroundings, and ultimately, your being involved in a preventable accident.