Don’t blame the cellphone for your bad driving. A University of Iowa instructor says the handy portable phones are only a small factor in mishaps blamed on “driver distraction.” John Lee is an associate professor of industrial engineering who says a lot of things can steal the focus a driver needs to do a good job. He says car radios are getting more complicated and they’re an example of “more technology coming into the car.” With so many features, functions and buttons to fiddle with, he says it’s a distraction that can lead to a crash. Professor Lee says the cellphone gets a lot of attention for its role in distracting drivers. One of the most common misconceptions is that a hands-free cellphone makes its use distraction-free. He says there’s a lot of research finding that just talking on the phone can be seriously distracting, and if “you’re not in the right place at the right time,” that can lead to a crash. While anything that diverts your mind can be distracting, Dr Lee says you lose more concentration on the phone than you would if you talked to someone there in the car with you. The auditory quality of a cellphone is poor compared to a personal conversation, and the more you have to concentrate on a poor signal, the less attention you’re giving to driving. Lee says there’s another reason a conversation with a real companion is less likely to lower your driving skills. The person sitting next to you sees the driving situation, and they’re likely to stop talking during a difficult maneuver like merging onto a highway or going around a corner. The person talking on a callphone doesn’t know what’s happening and is likely to keep no talking no matter what you’re doing at the moment. He says drivers don’t have to give up all cellphone conversations, but should remember to keep their main focus on driving. Lee’s done research in the field of “technology-mediated attention” and which events and objects have an impact on our brain’s focus on tasks it must do.
You are here: / / Research says cellphone not only blame for driver distraction