13 July 2010

Multitasking

I listened to en episode of RadioWest with Doug Fabrizio recently. (It's a local hour-long show that airs weekdays at 12 on KUER 90.1.) The title of the show was "Distracted," and it was about how our whole society is constantly distracted because we choose to be. I found it to be a really interesting show, but the thing that really struck me were the comments by a University of Utah researcher who came out with a study on multitasking recently. The conclusion of the study was that most people are really lousy at it, even if they think they are not. There is a very small percentage (like 2%) of people who are exceptional at it, though.

The thing is, when people hear these results they probably think, "I'm in the two percent." Only, the thing is, they almost definitely aren't.

In the show they talked quite a bit about talking on cell phones while driving, and it's really no surprise that it is really dangerous. It doesn't matter if you are using a headset or speaker phone. The fact of the matter is that talking on your phone while driving is a serious distraction. For various reasons it is not as distracting as having a conversation with somebody in your car, nor is it as distracting as listening to the radio or an audiobook.

And so I've given up talking on the phone while driving. If you call me, it is highly unlikely that I will answer. Whatever it is can wait, just like you would have done before I had a cell phone. It may sound like my giving up talking while driving is more inconvenient to other people than it is to me, but I assure you it is not.

I cannot tell you how often I use my "down-time" in the car to make phone calls. I call my mom a lot from the phone because it's a time when I'm "not doing anything else." Only, hello, yes, I AM doing something else. Something very important and very dangerous. I've known for quite some time that I really shouldn't talk on the phone while driving, but it's just recently hit home for me how seriously dangerous it is.

What are your phone-while-driving policies?

9 comments:

Janssen said...

I've pretty much given it up too, for all the same reasons.

I now fill my driving time by glaring at the insane texters on the freeway.

Packrat said...

If I'm driving in town or the highway is busy, I don't answer the phone or talk on it. If I'm expecting an important call, I'll pull into a parking lot. If I'm out on the lonesome highway, I might answer and talk long enough to say I'll call back.

John said...

when my friend was recently hired by my company, they made him sign a pledge to never text and drive. That was a pretty big item for him to give up especially now in his new postition where he spends a lot of time traveling. But as he said he promised so he gave it up. While he was telling me this, I first thought it's a good thing they haven't sent that document to me. I've since concluded that it's time to give up texting and driving. As for talking on the phone, I'm not quite ready to give it up.

John said...

when my friend was recently hired by my company, they made him sign a pledge to never text and drive. That was a pretty big item for him to give up especially now in his new postition where he spends a lot of time traveling. But as he said he promised so he gave it up. While he was telling me this, I first thought it's a good thing they haven't sent that document to me. I've since concluded that it's time to give up texting and driving. As for talking on the phone, I'm not quite ready to give it up.

Brianne said...

Yes, I watched a PBS show about the same kind of thing. I don't think I'm in the 2% by any stretch. I am really good at focusing on only one thing. Never could do anything while listening to music. Our state just passed a law that you can't talk on your cell phone in your car unless you have a hands free device. I don't use my cell phone much anyway, so it's not usually a problem.

Ana said...

I don't answer the phone to talk or txt while driving - it's illegal in NZ. I've seen a bunch of people txting and/or talking on the phone whilst driving of late though - like the person who was driving round the Pak'n'Save carpark chatting on the phone (who I wanted to report but Chris wouldn't let me). Also, whilst driving through a small town on our way home from Christchurch some jerk guy almost pulled out into the side of our van - we had no idea that this was his intention as he neglected to indicate - in fact I'm certain he didn't even look - he was too busy chatting on his phone. GRRRRRRRRR.

Saskia said...

It's illegal where I am, so that's an easy one. I don't even talk on the phone while I'm biking - I can listen to music or an audiobook, but anything else distracts me too much. Don't ask me how I know this.

Alice said...

I don't drive anymore so it is no problem at all. Oprah has a thing going right now for people to pledge not to text and drive. She has every one that comes on the show sign the pledge.

P1 Steven said...

All my wrecks have happened while NOT on the phone, so obviously Im a safer while driving while on the phone. I would imagine TEXTING is a much greater risk than talking on the phone.