Seeing that you’re driving blind

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Updated Dec 19, 2013

Did you know that a driver is four times more likely to get into an accident when talking on the phone? Or  23 times more likely to have an accident when texting?

Truck drivers might not know those exact statistics, but probably know the basic truth instinctively. It’s not that professional driving teaches you how to combine activities with driving, but that it teaches you how easy it is for things to go wrong on the road.

Anyone, pro or amateur, who doubts that inherent danger would do well to view this short, newly posted video about distracted driving. It simplifies the concept of “inattention blindness,” the “periods when we go blind to our environment.”

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I’ve written before on this idea, noting a study that showed “hands-free communications technology is just as distracting as hands-on” because of inattention blindness. Yet another study showed that seven out of 10 people believe using hands-free devices is “somewhat” or “much” safer than using handheld devices while driving.

Interaction with a cell phone while driving can produce “inattention blindness.”Interaction with a cell phone while driving can produce “inattention blindness.”

The video shows that what is superficially doing two things at once – driving and talking on the phone – is really just switching between two activities: “Our brain is not wired to pay attention to more than one complex task at a time.”

It’s too bad that much of the public doesn’t consider  driving to be a complex task. You know better. That’s one reason accidents are disproportionately caused by four-wheelers.

The video was produced by TED and Toyota. TED was founded 30 years ago as a conference bringing together leaders in technology, entertainment and design. It now encompasses any field of innovation and includes lots of conferences, partnerships, podcasts and other forms of outreach.