Dr. David Strayer

Think you can drive and text or talk at the same time? Science shows your brain just can't keep up. University of Utah researcher David Strayer has been studying distracted drivers for 10 years. "The brain just doesn't work the way we'd like it to work," he says. "We can't multitask the way that a lot of people think they can."

David's research found that talking on a cell phone quadruples your risk of an accident. "For comparison purposes, someone who's drunk at a 0.08 blood alcohol level has a four-time crash increase. So talking on a cell phone is about the same as driving drunk," he says. "When you're text messaging, the crash risk goes up to eight times."

The proof is in the pictures
An undistracted driver

2. Driving Without Distractions
This is what a driver sees when she's not distracted by a cell phone.

David warns that even if you focus all your attention on the road ahead, you still need to keep an eye on other drivers. "Many people think they're safer drivers. A lot of people think they're better than average. They think that they can talk or text while driving and it's the other person who's at fault," he says. "But the problem is everybody behind them is also weaving."

A distracted driver

3. Driving While Talking on a Cell Phone
This is what the same driver would see if she was talking on a cell phone. "One of the things we know when people are talking on a phone is that they get in kind of a tunnel vision," David says.

"You don't see the information in the periphery. So if there's a car, a pedestrian, something like that, you just don't see it," he says. "They're not looking at their side mirrors."

An undistracted driver

4. Driving Without Distractions
Here is another example of what a focused driver sees.
An distracted driver

5. Driving While Talking on a Cell Phone
This is what that same driver sees when she starts talking on a cell phone. "You suffer from something called inattention blindness," David says. "About half of that information is removed. It could be a stop sign. It could be a pedestrian. And so this inattention blindness makes us drive in a way that makes it worse than drunk driving."

The next time you're in the car, put down the phone. "We're just not wired to multitask in that way. We think we can do it. We simply can't," he says. "And we're deceiving ourselves if we think we are."

See what happens when we put distracted drivers to the test Watch

The tragic truth about distracted driving
FROM: This Show Could Save Your Life: America's New Deadly Obsession
Published on January 15, 2010


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