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WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Using a cell phone -- even with a hands-free device -- may distract drivers because the brain cannot handle both tasks, U.S. researchers said Tuesday. Imaging tests show the brain directs its resources to either visual input or auditory input, but cannot fully activate both at the same time, the team at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found.
.."It's as if the participants were changing the volume on visual input and auditory input depending on where they were supposed to be directing attention," Yantis said. This is like driving and trying to talk on a cell phone. "You are sharing attention between vision and audition and doing the best you can,"..

More/full story from cnn can be seen here:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/ptech/06/21/drivers.cell.phones.reut/index.html
 

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I'm all for banning the use of cell phones when driving a motor vehicle.

But I question having the ability to drive and 'listen' at the same time... people have been driving with their radios full blast forever with no adverse effect on how it affects their driving! People also have conversations with car passengers (many times more than one passenger at a time) with no adverse effects.
 

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chuck807 said:
I'm all for banning the use of cell phones when driving a motor vehicle.

But I question having the ability to drive and 'listen' at the same time... people have been driving with their radios full blast forever with no adverse effect on how it affects their driving! People also have conversations with car passengers (many times more than one passenger at a time) with no adverse effects.
I beg to differ on that one Chuck. I can't begin to count the number of times I've seen people make stupid moves in trafffic due to holding a conversation with someone beside them or 'grooving' to the tunes and losing concentration on the task at hand. It follows into talk radio as well. People get engrossed in the subject and before you know it they are concentrating on the wrong element.

Driving today is far and away different that it was 10 years ago and cannot even be compared to 20 years ago. Traffic patterns and volumes have changed, our work lives have changed which in turn have changed our ability to concentrated on the road ie: we spend more time at work and tend to be far more stressed. I believe that the rules for driving have to be changed to suit the times. Remember, as hard as it is to swallow, driving is a priviledge, not a right.
 

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I have to agree and disagree with Rubble at the same time (if that makes sense). There's going to be people who are irresponsible where most others are not. There's going to be people engrossed in their radio, or involved in a heated argument with passengers... but there's others where the radio serves to relax their driving, and others who are 'rewarded' by being able to use the 'car pool lane' because they have passengers. I'm just afraid that someday it will go too far... like abandoning talking to your passenger while in a moving vehicle? Or abandoning the use of your car radio? The line has to be drawn somewhere.

What I consistently see is a negative effect of cell phone usage while driving. I just don't see the same negative impacts with radio usage or communication with passengers.

Riding on 2-wheels, we tend to notice other 4-wheelers a lot more. I'm sure everyone has a story about a 'close one' because some idiot was driving their car while engaged in a cell-phone conversation.
 

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The thing that is different about talking to a passenger in your car (different from talking on a cell phone, that is) is that the passenger can see when you need to concentrate on driving -- in heavy traffic, say -- so you feel able to leave those 'awkward' pauses in the conversation and drive relatively safely. Your phone correspondent however, blissfully unaware of your driving situation, expects the immediate responses he/she would get if you were safely sitting at a desk. You are aware of that expectation, so you concentrate on keeping the conversation flowing smoothly at the expense of driving more attentively.

This, at any rate, is the perception of a guy who has to do way too much phone business while behind the wheel. I hope I never see a rider on a cell phone!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I agree with Rubble. granted, if listening to music as a background element I think it would be far less distracting but 'actively listening' (hearing words and interpreting them, coversational decisions and associated thought processing, etc.) I think is far more distracting.
Akin to 'actively listening' and retaining two conversations at the same time I would think (and have observed, myself at least) flip-flopping from one to the other (as far as focus), digesting a piece and essentially 'task swapping' to glean the most from both. When both are exactly simutaneous I've found it virtually impossible to input both. I found the article and study to be very realistic and I credited it (from my own opinion) as being a proper accounting of the way we focus. Ever found yourself (when getting two forms of input simutaneously) processing one of them in an after-the-fact manner? Ever speak with someone on the phone as they paused while performing some driving manuveur or had someone say, hold on a second, some idiot is..., etc.? Ever speak on a phone while driving and does any of that sound familar? Or.. Ever watch someone talking on their phone while you were riding with them or driving on the road and someone else changes lanes or a light changes or something (not background/secondhand nature) happens and see the additional response time required for the cell phone driver?
Of course, the more 'important' the conversation the more this is an obvious issue.
There are many issues other than cell phones though. Ever see a father/mother turned around in their seat yelling/'speaking' to their kids rather than watching where they are going? Or having an 'active' conversation with a passenger (add gestures and increase response time)?

My all time favorite was following behind a car in dense rush hour fast traffic watching two people having an argument. Normally this would not be great and would be hard to notice from several car lengths behind them but with both the passenger AND driver using both hands (sign language) as well as the additional throwing hands in the air and the way they were acting it was pretty obvious it was a heated 'conversation'. I have more of a problem with someone 'signing' while driving than 'speaking' while driving. Thank goodness for knees to steer with, hmm? :roll:
 

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I don't need a report telling me cell phones are dangerous, :( I already know some people can't walk and chew gum at the same time :D So whats new !
 

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I will use a cellphone in light traffic when possible. I'm a very cautious driver, will (and have) dropped the phone in my lap when both hands are necessary, and will ALWAYS pay attention.
Where I'm from, the drivers are totally inept and there are no real road laws. I find the people who selfishly let themselves be distracted by things other than driving ruin it for the others who are capable of doing two things at once.
While I don't want to give up the option of answering/making a quick call while driving, I will do so if it's passed into law here. Sometimes, the scientific studies like above don't account for stupidity and selfishness, nor do they point to the real cause of lack of attention, which isn't a cellphone or radio, it's ineptitude.
 

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Anyone see Mythbusters last night on the Discovery chanel?
They did an experiment to see if driving while on a cell phone was more or less dangerous than driving after a few drinks.

They drove a course at some racetrack, thru cones, quick stop, crash avoidance and such.

Both drivers passed the test on the first pass, no booze or cell phone.
Both drivers failed the course while on the cell phone, and both failed the course with the drinks. Their BAC was just under the legal limit of .08%.

I found it interesting.
 

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I saw the show too. Made my wife watch. Pointed her to both the referenced report above AND the show. She actually said "Maybe I should quit using the phone in the car." I knodded in agreement.

I tend to miss stoplights if I'm engaged in deep conversation in the car. No phone needed. It's a no-brainer to me that cell phone use by the driver of a moving car should be strongly discouraged.
 
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