A new study shows that brains aren’t good at multitasking — If you’re listening, you can’t watch as well. Or, in scientist-speak:
When attention is deployed to one modality — say, in this case, talking on a cell phone — it necessarily extracts a cost on another modality — in this case, the visual task of driving.
Why the attack on cell phones?! The study showed that listening, not “talking on cell phones,” impaired visual processing.
In the interest of safety, let’s not ban just talking on cell phones while driving. Why not ban listening to music or talk radio? In fact, let’s outlaw radios or CD players in cars. In the meantime, some enterprising lawyer can file a class action products liability lawsuit against automobile manufacturers for making available audio equipment in their vehicles — obviously a defective design that contributes to the unfettered distraction of responsible drivers and the consequential injurious accidents caused thereby.
Better yet, let’s make it illegal to drive under the influence of sound. “Kids, stop your fighting and be quiet back there. It’s the law!” “Sorry, dear. I’d love to talk about your book club but I can’t; it’s illegal.”
Shut up and let me drive.
One response to “Shut Up and Let Me Drive”
I think that ultimately government should close multi-lane bi-directional roads, since driving there requires much multitasking. Even worse, since motor vehicles are one of the most deadly things that most people encounter, they should be banned. Public transportation is much safer, and requires little multitasking (apart of trying to find that seat while the vehicle accelerates — god forbid that you are also chewing gum). Riding horses would be the next safest thing. Laws requiring us to ride bicycles would help solve the nation’s obesity problem.
Perhaps a compromise would be a task-capacity test, kind of an expansion of the eye test at the DMV. Drivers would have to demonstrate actual function with simultaneous visual, audible, and physical function (maybe even taste function for those who eat while driving! I wonder what kind of jailhouse gruel the DMV would make us chew?). That way, you would have to show your license — to listen to the radio, talk on the phone, or eat on the road! Just imagine, you could not buy food at the drive-thru without showing the proper endorsement on your license.
Gosh, I wonder what else government could regulate in this computer age? How about blogs? Just as certain types of humor are prohibited at the airport, blog content like this reply ought to be regulated.