Many studies say people cannot drive as safely while they talk on a mobile phone.
A recent report from the University of Utah doesn't dispute that, but it does suggest that a very small portion of the population - about 2.5 percent of us - fit into a category researchers call "supertaskers."
These outliers are able to do two things at once - talk on the phone and drive, for instance - without their performance declining for either task.
"Our results suggest that there are supertaskers in our midst: rare but intriguing individuals with extraordinary multi-tasking ability," psychologists Jason Watson and David Strayer write in the report, titled "Supertaskers."
"These individual differences are important because they challenge current theory that postulates immutable bottlenecks in dual-task performance."
To get the results, the psychologists put 200 people in a driving simulator and tested their ability to react to traffic and braking cars while solving math problems and word games on a hands-free mobile phone.
Before you begin insisting that you, too, are a "supertasker" who can juggle multiple phone texts while eating, combing your hair and hurtling down the highway at 65 mph, heed this warning from the authors:
"Some readers may also be wondering if they too are supertaskers; however, we suggest that the odds of this are against them," they write.
While many people consider themselves adept multi-taskers, many psychological tests show that people do not function as well when their attention is split. However, in the future, as technology makes "supertasking" a more beneficial trait, people may be able to rewire their brains to be up to the challenge, they write.
The authors also reference several distracted driving reports, including one estimate from the National Safety Council that says 28 percent of all car crashes in the U.S. are caused by people who are using cell phones to talk or text.
[via NYTimes Bits blog]
Posted by: John D. Sutter -- CNN.com writer/producerFiled under: distracted driving mobile phones multi-tasking texting
Simple any one driving using a cell phone should be charged with a DUI because it's the SAME!!!!
It is more preventable than any thing you can think of. YOU ARE NOT THAT IMPORTANT that you can't get off the road or wait till you get HOME.
Hmm... that may explain why I can type an email and have a full blown conversation on a totally different topic simultaneously. I've actually kind of freaked people out by being able to do this kind of thing. That said I NEVER do anything but drive my car when I'm driving. The risks far outweigh any temporary 'efficiency' benefit.
I think I should be able to shoot anyone driving and using a cell phone. It is simple self defense. Cell phone use is way worse than DUI – drunks probably have a disease. Phone users are just SELFISH.
Data use on a phone while driving, I get it, that's bad. Texting, surfing, etc.. require you to look at phone, which obviously impedes driving. However, talking on the phone, I don't understand the big drawback here. Especially now, with hand-free and voice dialing, how is it any different than talking to a passenger you have in the car with you?
Drunks probably have a disease, but phone users are just selfish? That's the stupidest thing I've heard all day. Both actions are reckless, but there is no disease that forces you to drive under the influence. Telling alcoholics that it's not their fault just enables them.
@ Wayne Messer,
You act as if your a saint and that you never used a cell phone while driving.
It's impossible for people to be able to do it completely safe. Sure, if everything is going well and you are just keeping your car in the lane and stopping when you have to, it's not difficult. Just about anybody can do that. What happens when somebody stops suddenly in front of you, somebody or an animal jumps out in front of you, a car swerves into your lane, you hit a wet patch and go into a spin, or any similar situation? Good luck reacting fast enough with one hand on the wheel and your mind split between driving and talking on the phone.
I've taken performance driving courses many times and they teach you how to recover from situations like that, including if your car gets into a spin. I can just imagine if they put a cell phone in your hand and then asked you to put the car into a spin and then recover while talking on the phone. You quite simply wouldn't be able to.
Supertasker or not, you can't drive as well with one hand and your attention split. Not when it's time to avoid an accident situation.
I for one do talk on the phone while driving, but it’s as easy as dialing someone before I leave the parking space or while I'm at a red light. Yes I’ll press one button to answer the phone and while any of this, it’s on a feature I liked to call: SPEAKER PHONE.
Both answering a call, and making one require the same action as switching the radio station or going to the next song on your CD. Though, I wouldn't change the radio station going 65 MPH down the highway and switch lanes so don’t think I’d do the same with a phone.
If people can master this trait like I have – the world would be a safer place.
Everything just takes common sense, and self preservation.
Thank you Mr. Chad, it looks like you must be a super-tasker too !
I know i am !! So the 2.5% sure is under estimated.
Not a "super tasker" I clearly think my brain cant handle what the article's main focus is on. I'm just saying the whole RANT about cell phone usage and driving is dramatic.
Doing things safely is exactly that – safely.
In Belgium , you can not use your phone while driving a car.
A violation of that will cost you around 150 Euro.
But i can use my GPS, or program my CD-player, I even can read a book while driving my car. Strange laws in Belgium, made by supertaskers.
Hah, read a book.
Sounds fun and very little risk involved.
Yeah , but not for the other 97.5 %
Good point, we should get a special ID or something.
"This person can do the following tasks: anything"
How can anyone say that talking on the cell phone is the same as a DUI?? Sorry, but a phone does not intoxicate you so it's NOT the same. Also, does that mean that if you are having a conversation with a passenger in your car that takes some of your attention off the road that you should get a ticket or have your license suspended? Or what about if you are thinking about something and it takes your attention away from the road? What then, Thinking while driving charge?? Get real and pay attention, whatever you happen to be doing in your car.
Leslie – Your right.
My opinion is that there is people that CANT focus on ONE task, let alone a second.
I for one, dont think im part of the 2.5% but I def can manage multiple tasks safely. I've yet to get in an accident and no.. I wont knock on wood. The absense of a accident should be proof enough.
Murphy's law !!!
My special ID would be my number plate. When it start's with CD (corps diplomatique) ohhh, now i can use my phone. I'm a supertasker.
What I don’t like is, if you click the "28 percent of all car crashes" in the article you'll find a commonly used statement like:
"... research reporting cell phone use increases crash risk by four times."
As if we have a flat risk to begin with. I'm sorry but I don’t have 1% chance to crash going to Wal-Mart and a 4% Chance going on a road trip, and then multiply by 4 if I’m on a phone. We are not rolling dice here!!!
Actually there have been studies that suggest the level of driver impairment when on the phone is similar to driving drunk. For example, one such study was reported on here:
But one thing this study doesn't explain is, as others have mentioned above, if talking on hands-free devices do make you more likely to be in a crash, does that mean we should outlaw conversations with other passengers in the same car?
I, for one, am all for banning talking on a phone while driving, but allowing hands-free devices. I don't see the difference in a hands-free device and talking to a passenger. On the other hand, when I see someone drifting into another lane, waiting too long to hit the brakes safely, or making other typical driver errors, more and more frequently they are holding a cellphone to their ears – regardless of the laws in place.
I like talking on the phone on long, cross country drives. It helps me stay awake. The benefit outweighs the risk there. In the city it's different.
I was reading an article a couple months ago how the cell phone equals drunk driving statisitics are all baked. I wish I could link to it, but I don't have it anymore. Look at the car accident statistics from the 90's before everyone had cell phone and then compare it to more recent statistics. You would expect today statistics to be at least 28% higher today and probably more due to population increase. The statistics show the number of accidents has been relatively level and ever dropped some with the ubiquitousness of cell phones.
It's weird that we have to pass laws against texting while driving. That's kind of like passing laws against stabbing yourself in the eye with a fork.
I am not surprised that there is a study to empower people to use their digital devices while driving. It is a necessary paper for the lawsuits that will need to be defended against when a self proclaimed supertasker runs over a toddler while texting and driving.
The best thing about experts and their studies is, they are a dime a dozen and worth a little bit less.
Air horn, either that or I'm going to start throwing rotten eggs at the stupid twits that drive and text/talk, cut across parking lots, don't wait their turns.
To the people that said driving while using a cell phone is like a DUI. Do you also consider eating, adjusting the radio, or even listening to the radio the same? You people sound stupid. I talk and drive all the time, as my job requires me to. I haven't EVER been close to coming in to an accident
I don't have any problem super-tasking. In fact, I can do about 4 things simultaneously ejrmy O mrrf yp O vsm kidy rsdo;u deoyvj nsvl smf gptyj eoyj ,u syyrmyopm smf jsbr mp ill-effects.
Yesterday we were waiting to cross a busy road. We waited quite a while, and noticed that we could cross as soon as the next car went by. However, the car drove so slow (way under the speed limit) and took so long we had to wait a while longer once she did finally pass. She had a cell phone in one hand, her eyes on the phone and was paying absolutely no attention to the road. If someone in front of her suddenly had to stop, she would have without a doubt wrecked.
She didn't even look at the road the entire time she passed by..
I cannot believe CNN would go so low as to take the phrase of the United States Marine Corps and disrespect those good Marines by poking fun at them.
Honestly, you cannot take the phrase of the Corps and not suffer the consequences. I hope the editor/author has something happen to them that will make them regret ever disrespecting the Marines.
If talking on your cell phone is so bad, then why do they still allow people with the Nextell push to talk feature to still use their phones. How do they justify that holding the phone to your ear is unsafe but holding it away from it and talking is safe?
The problem with talking on the phone is not the pressing of the buttons, its the fact that you are not paying full attention to the road. Why it's different than just talking with someone else in the car – in the car they see the road ahead also. They can see the other traffic and see and react if the traffic changes or other issues. They can react accordingly by shutting up, or even helping bring attention to it. On the phone, it doesn't work.
Why people don't understand that, I'll never know. I guess it will take them killing someone to understand.
Once you exceed 35 miles per hour, accidents are inevitable. The skew in reactions times of the average populace shows that it is no longer possible for the populace as a whole to react to events fast enough to avoid accidents. You aren't alone on the highways. So the best we can do is reduce distractions and give everyone the best possible chance. The guy I (as a passenger) snapped a photo of with an open report folder on his steering wheel and a cell phone in his hand on I5 in busy traffic is a menace that owes penance. Seriously when you talk on a cell phone one hand is off the wheel, so reactions will be impaired for certain maneuvers. And dropping the phone causes other issues. Hands Free is the partial solution, but looks like it won't really improve the odds but should shorten the time a bit since you don't have to move the hand back to the wheel. But studies show it is about as bad. If its important pull off and do the chat.
I think that people need to be very careful of what they are talking about when they make statements about cell-phones and driving. While I agree that people holding a cell phone while driving is dangerous, people seem to think that using a hands free device is just as dangerous. The problem is that they don't think about what they are saying: it's no different than talking to a passenger in your car! I have used hands-free speaker phones for years while driving and the only times that I have even had a close call was due to another driver's stupidity and I am not a "supertasker. Now before people start howling about my comment, consider the last call that I made from my cell while driving: it was to report a dangerous and possibly drunk driver who was all over the road and was a clear danger to everyone else on the road.
I hope everyone who reads this knows that if you rank in the top 2.5%, that you are simply two standard deviations from the average.
In plain terms, of course there are exceptional people who can do things that far exceed the norm and this finding is nothing new.
for more info: search for either normal distribution of standard deviation.
You people are idiots. You are probably the same people that are always telling people to go at four way stops even though it is your turn, or maybe you are the people who stop two car lengths behind the person in front of you at a red light, or maybe you are the people that drive the speed limit in the fast lane. in any case, working on driving not just better but more competently would fix this whole thing. My point being... you can follow all the rules and still do crap job.
Are there any supertaskers out there? Maybe, but it doesn't matter, because you need to have the same rules for everyone.
The big difference between talking to a passenger and talking to someone who's not in the car with you is that the passenger is aware of the road and the traffic (assuming the passenger is not your kid stuck in the back seat) and will thus expect you to be more focused on the road than the conversation at times. A smart passenger will even shut up when he knows you need to pay more attention to the traffic. A person on the other end of a cell-phone conversation can't do any of this, regardless of whether you're using a handsfree device. (I have a built-in handsfree device in one of my cars and an earpiece for use in the other, both of them affording voice control so as to eliminate the need to dial, but I'm well aware that neither is a cure-all. I enjoy driving, so I don't talk on the phone much when doing so.)
The other big thing about the cell-phone conversation is that the nature of the conversation is important to whether it will be less or more distracting. If you call your spouse to say you're on your way home and she asks you to stop at the store to pick up a few things, that's fairly innocuous, assuming you can easily remember her shopping list. If instead you're driving up the northern end of the New Jersey Turnpike on an international call with someone in Europe trying to close a business deal, the call is going to be absorbing a lot more of your focus because of its importance, and that's not safe (especially on that particular road given the traffic).
It really astonishes me how many morons out there will have a phone pressed to their ear before even reaching the end of the block after leaving home in the morning. No call is that urgent. If it were truly important, then it's important enough to stay home (or to go into work early) and take the call in a more focused environment where you can take notes and the like and where you don't face the prospect of having everyone hear you blast your horn at the other idiot who drifted into your lane because he was talking on his phone instead of watching the road.
This afternoon (March 31) I was on my way to the post office and saw a red light ahead of me. I slowed down and noted a car in the lane next to me approaching at fairly high speed. I looked over and saw a driver with a cell-phone pressed to his or her ear. The driver promptly sailed right through the red light without even slowing down. It was in a school zone, too.
Here is what I don't get. Accident rates in the US have been going down while cell phone usage increases. If cell phones are really involved in 28% of the accidents on the road, then you would think accidents would be going up. Its just another scare tactic by a special interest group that is going to end up costing everyone more money when they have to buy headsets and pay fines. People get distracted in cars and have accidents. If it isn't cell phones, it will be from putting in cds or changing radio stations. If there aren't distractions, people will get bored and lose focus and have accidents. So basically no matter what we do there are going to be accidents.
The difference between talking to someone on a phone while driving and talking to someone in the car while driving is that when you talk to someone on a phone, your mind has to start forming mental images of things remote from the car and the driving task. You have to kind of project yourself some ways towards their environment to communicate effectively with them. Talking to someone in your car allows you to continue to still be fully in your driving surroundings. You don't have to imagine their environment because you're in it. And you are both reacting to the driving situation in subtle but effective ways; your conversation partner will be allowing for your attention to shift to the road, in fact will help you keep your attention where it belongs because their safety is at stake too. An extreme example: if you are about to crash, their facial expressions will convey that to you if nothing else does.
People should understand their limitations and drive within them.
I have safely done all of the following while driving: eat, drink read, watch tv, change clothes, check email, make phone calls, and read websites.
I'm sorry to say I didn't read this story and type this response while driving.
It all depends on the conditions.
There are times when I turn off the car radio because I can't handle the distraction.
There are times when reading an email is perfectly safe.
If you know you can't walk and chew gum, don't.
But, stop bothering those of us who can.
No I don't act as if I'm a saint and for the record I haven't ever used a cell phone in a car because I don't own a cell phone.
Clearly the only nerve I hit was yours in that you fit the description and not I don’t have a twitter account either.
I’m not that important. I just know that I’ve come close to being killed or injured by idiots talking on a cell phone even when they’ve had to swerve in to another lane to keep from rear ending me and still running their mouths on the phone the whole time afraid to get out of their car because they were clearly in the wrong.
Now, confess your transgressions because it is clear you are a contributor to narcissistic behavior.
If there is evidence that a driver that caused an serious accident involving injury or death of another person has been distracted by the use, (in any way), of a cell phone, car stereo, or any other device inside the car not directly related to the task of driving; they will normally be charged for neglegent driving at the very least. Unfortunately all these new laws specifically targeting cell phone use are being legislated due to the slimy lawyers getting people off on tecnicalities in the laws. We see aquittals every day that should have been slam dunk convictions. Common sense does not exist in the eyes of the law. We should be able to jail anyone that kills or maims another if they weren't paying proper attention to the road. The public has a reasonable expectation to feel safe on the road from other drivers. Those that chose to pay attention to things other than the road whist driving should lose their freedom for it if they cause an accident.
"National Safety Council that says 28 PERCENT of all car crashes in the U.S. are caused by people who are using cell phones to talk or text.."
...so, shouldn't these super-taskers be taken to task? :(
I think we should ban cars altogether. What are the statistics of falling off a horse while talking on a cell phone?
I'm betting our brains don't rewire themselves. Rather, I'll bet we go back to that old theme "keep it simple, stupid".
Note that the "study" is still under review and has not properly been peer-reviewed yet.
Anyone thinking that this explains why they are able to do more than one thing at a time well is simply uni-tasking... at being an idiot
The difference between the supertaskers that can talk on a cell phone and drive and the rest of us is: the supertaskers are all so lucky because they haven't been in an accident yet.
Anyone using a cellphone should be charged with DUI?
Are you friggin insane?
This means anyone simply talking to a passenger should be charged with DUI also!!!
Anyone with any brain thoughts other than driving should be charged as DUI also!!!
This is absurd.
I know I'm not a "supertasker". I can concentrate on one thing and, sometimes, if someone talks to me while doing that, it takes a moment for me to realize that the other person has said something. And then, it takes me a moment to get back into task at hand. Guess I'll leave the phone in my pocket. Does that give me an excuse not to talk to family members I didn't want to talk to anyway??
How come newer cars allow to make a call by saying the name or have bluetooth as built-in device. I think the car manufacturer should stop in first place, as if it is there, people think it is OK to use.
So you're saying that by driving a standard transmission vehicle and having one hand on the shifter and not on the wheel I am a menace to society? Get real. People drive one handed on a daily basis for real reasons. Its not the one handed driving thats the problem.
Hav-ving-- trub--troub-trooble tex-xting-whi-le-dri-driv--driving...80...mph... Whew! Did it! YES!!!
If 28% of car crashes were related to cell phone use, this means that 72% of people got into an accident without a cell phone. I say we should put a phone in their car and reduce accidents! But seriously...there should be few problems if you drive first and talk second – if you can't handle this, then you should not have passengers in your car, either.
I can talk on the phone and drive just as safe. The key is giving yourself enough room between you and the car infront of you, so that even if you are distracted which might add 1 second to your reaction time. There will be no damage. Also being aware of cars around you. Some things you cannot avoid like a car randomly turning into you but if you are aware that he/she is there then the possibly is lowered.
DUI's and driving while using a phone should not be compared. I put my phone on speaker, place it on my lap and am able to speak and drive. If you are easily distracted maybe you should not be using a phone. Txting while driving is different....it should be banned. For seconds at a time you are not looking at the road at all. I find it very scary and do not let my friends do it if i am in the car while they are driivng.
The term "SuperTasker" (and how it was derived from two arbitrary tasks, driving and doing word / math problems) implies that all tasks take up the same cognitive power. Anyone with at least a degree in Freakonomics will tell you this study is nothing but chewy, fluffy pop science.
Hands free cellular use in the car is NOT the same as talking to a passenger. Most passengers will stop talking or warn you of impending traffic dangers while folks on the other side of the phone won't.
Further, disruptive children in the back of a car are just as dangerous for the driver (and other drivers) as talking on the phone.
Bottom line... anything distracting the driver is unsafe. Since no law can fairly enforce 'distraction' it's up to the drivers to govern their own attention.
Luckily, I'm in the upper 2.5% of supertaskers, so this doesn't apply to me. ;-)
Finally – an article on CNN about me. ;-)
Huh-lo CNN, this story should have been coupled with one about the research that shows that most people *inclined* to multi-task are the ones that are the *worst* at it. Check the Internet – I hear it is a great place to go for relevant information. Or, you could just go on throwing whatever 'news' you find lying around over the transom, and consider your job done.
"Our results suggest that there are supertaskers in our midst:" – It's called ADD.
Wayne, Wayne Messer, Wayne. Does Harry Plendl Have to choke choke a ******?
Do you know what the penalties of a DUI are? I even think the penalty for a DUI are pretty harsh let alone using my cell phone.
If you use signals, drive at a safe distance (2-3 seconds) behind the car in front of you, avoid the freeway/interstate as much as possible, always able to see the base of the wheels of the car infront of you when stopped, use your mirrors, head check blind spots when changing lanes, don't speed excessively (5-10 mph over), don't eat (because you may choke to death) conduct routine maintenance and don't smoke...you can use your cell phone on speaker or hands free at your liberty safely.
Because of you I am going to talk on my phone every single time I get in my car. Telling my friends and family how bad the drivers are
Hands free phone use can differ from talking to a passenger in terms of the information conveyed. While a passenger is likely to have the good sense not to deliver earth-shattering bad news like "you're fired" or "I'm leaving you" while you're speeding through traffic, a phone caller might not.
plenty of soccer moms driving oversized SUVs while putting on makeup in their mirrors and yelling at their children in the back seat caused car accidents long before cell phones came along
i was reading this article on my mobile phone while driving and I agree talking and driving is unsafe. cheers
As if any further evidence was required to demonstrate this society's complete and total devolution to pure consumerism, now we celebrate techno geeks and shopoholics at the same pantheon we pay tribute to the Marines. Thanks "journalists" for transforming we Few and Proud into just another advertising punch-line.
I travel allot and I am required to be on allot of conference calls. I see nothing wrong with putting the cell phone on speaker phone and listening to a conference call on the high way, in the city is probably not cool. Bigger issue, truck drivers in the left lane talking on the cell phone. Cars at 55 cause wrecks, but big rigs cause death. Or how about the soccer mom in the huge SUV in Atlanta traffic weaving in and out of the lane smiling the whole time not realizing she is doing it.
Never thought about that- I can drive perfectly fine and carry on a conversation on the phone (albeit over my car's hands-free bluetooth system). But, on the other hand, as a musician, I have trouble singing and playing my instrument at the same time. Kinda like how some people can't walk and chew gum at the same time. But I don't think driving with one hand and talking on the phone with the other is a good idea at all.
i think that using the cell phone on speaker or hands free isn't as bad as sending messages or surfing on the internet while driving wich I am completely against , and i have witnessed accidents because of it.
As well as ladies putting make up on, yelling to their kids at the back, etc.
Drinking and driving another huge NO, and calling it a disease, COME ON!!! So i bet there is a whole bunch of SICK people out there lol
And to Harry there, how can you say that "Because of you I am going to talk on my phone every single time I get in my car. Telling my friends and family how bad the drivers are" i wonder how old you are, cuz you seem quite immature!! you might want to consider growing up!!!!
I don't know about anyone else but I am from the DC area and I really think that they need to start from the begining and actually teach people how to drive. I've never been in an accident in DC but have had very close calls because people are stupid, wreckless and just plain jerks. For example, passing me on the left on a 1 way, 1 lane road, in the middle of an intersection is just retarded...if they would have bothered to slow down and look at why I was slowing down to stop they would have realized the family of pedestrians crossing in front of me that had to jump out of the way when I was passed.
Safe driving and mobile talking are widely talked about these days
Some people can drive and talk. Some people can't. I happen to be one that can, and if I have a lapse in concentration, it's on the phone conversation. I don't drive 20 mph under the speed limit while on the phone. I don't swerve all over the place. I don't run red lights. I don't run down pedestrians. I am capable of driving and talking, but most people AREN'T! So I'll gladly support any law that outlaws any use of a cell phone while driving. I don't want one of the people who can't do 2 things at once to kill me or someone I love. And that is the bottom line.
It is possible to have accidents without talking on the phone, listening to the radio, texting, having a conversation with a passenger, or looking at your GPS. I know because I had a serious accident (5 car pileup) because I was watching a plane in the sky above me and ended up too close to the car in front of me. They stopped suddenly because of a problem on the road up ahead, and I didn't. The reason I hit them was because I was distracted. I wasn't doing any thing except driving, and looking at that plane.
Distraction comes in many forms, and we need to recognize it. I've been much more careful about it ever since.
can i get a "super tasker" mark on my driver's license? I am sure there is a "percentage" of us who can drive at 20 above the speed limit without endangering the public. There are a few who can probably drink a few shots without any impraiment to their senses.
Is the phone call that importan?
This is why I have 2 big screen TVs, one for PS3 and one for satellite TV right next to it. I also sit on the computer and read, play, and chat while also playing PS3 watching TV and listening to music and smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol and listening to music on the stereo. Tough, but someone's got to do it.
Kratos! You are a God!
Common Sense isn't common.
not only cell phone but also gps can cause car crash!
Doesn't matter if the phone is handheld or not. It's the distraction factor.
the car stereos that we bought have built in equalizers and it sounds great ".-
great info Here's some pass forward: Thought for the day? : CAUTION! I can go from 0 to BITCH in 2.5 seconds
Did you go to college? It sure seems like it, you've got a wonderful train of thought – wish I had just one ounce of your energy!
Hello, I log on to your blog like every week.
Your story-telling style is awesome, keep doing what you're doing!
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