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Science shows why cellphone use behind the wheel is so dangerous

Do you consider yourself to be a good multitasker? If you said yes, you're not alone. A lot of people consider themselves to be excellent multitaskers. In this day and age you almost have to be in order to successfully juggle the plethora of activities and trips we often cram into our days.

But some believe that we as a society are becoming disillusioned by our perceived ability to successfully multitask. We believe that we are so good at it that we have started to multitask in situations we shouldn't, such as when we are behind the wheel of a car. We may find ourselves listening to the radio and talking to the person sitting next to us while we read a text message. Before we know it though, we are running a red light because of these distractions -- a decision that can and often does result in a serious accident.

The reason this happens, some scientists say, is because of how our brain processes data. An entry on Brainfacts.org explains this best: the prefrontal cortex, an area that "spans the left and right sides of the brain," gets activated when we need to pay attention to something. Responsible for coordinating "messages with other brain systems," the prefrontal cortex uses both sides of the brain to focus on a single task. This changes though when we try to perform two tasks.

According to research conducted by the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale in Paris, France, when we try to do two tasks at once, our brain tries to split its attention, using one side of the brain to perform one task while the other side performs the other task. Unfortunately, this process becomes disrupted when another task gets thrown into the mix.

Other research has shown that when we split our attention, we can miss important information or fail to see our surroundings as we should. This, as you have probably already realized, is incredibly problematic when we are operating vehicles because we can miss seeing things like other vehicles, people or traffic signals.

Distracted driving is considered negligence here in Indiana and can lead to personal injury lawsuits. Seeking legal help after an accident oftentimes ensures compensation for both serious and fatal injuries caused by distracted driving.

Source: Brainfacts.org, "The Multitasking Mind," The Society for Neuroscience, Oct. 9, 2013

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