Avoid accidents by avoiding distractions

Staff Report

This accident is nothing to LOL about. Distracted driving is the cause of 20- 30 percent of vehicular accidents according the the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the United States.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Everyone is guilty of it. The spinning and clicking through subfolders on your iPod for that Top-40 single while hurling your automobile 70 mph down a blacktop strip. If not that, you possibly conversed with your mother about recent familial victories and tragedies while zippering in to traffic from the on-ramp to the interstate.

While most of us believe we are multitasking champions of our day to day, the reality is that our brains cannot facilitate executing parallel individual tasks with 100% efficiency. Unfortunately, for a lot of us this means our significant other was right about how terrible we are at driving, and now they have professor and neuroscientist Earl Miller, Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT, to reference.

According to Miller, our brains can only shift focus from one task to the next with rapid secession. We perceive it as multitasking, but actually we’re making our brains work harder to keep up. MRI’s (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) of the brain show it’s focus switching back and forth on tasks in test subjects. In an office environment, multitasking comes with the territory, but out on the road drivers should be laser focused on one thing and one thing only…operating a vehicle.

Here are a few reminders, from the attached safety gram PDF, on driving safely without distractions:

  • A safe driver stops before checking maps and addresses, looking at paperwork, and dealing with similar distractions.
  • Consider how your children might be observing your unsafe habits and thinking of them as something normal that everyone does.
  • Never read or send text messages while driving.
  • Eating, drinking, fiddling with the radio or vehicle sound system, adjusting heaters and digging items out of the glove box while driving have caused vehicle crashes.
Click on the links below to see related-safety messages.

Safety Gram 12-09 Distractions They’re Everywhere

Read more on NPR’s “Think You’re Multitasking? Think again” featuring neuroscientist Earl Miller

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