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.