Wake Up! Shut Up! And read this terrific article by Katharine Mieszkowski at Salon.com about the dangers of yapping and driving. Healthsifter has discussed this before: Don't think you're driving safely just because you're using a hands-free device to talk on your cell. Human conversation uses a lot of brain resources. So does driving. It's tough to run both programs on your hard drive simultaneously, and driving usually suffers. Mieszkowski explains:
"Forty percent of your attention is drawn away when you're on the phone," says Marcel Just, a psychologist who directs Carnegie Mellon's Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging.That goes for you too, Mr. Multitasker.
In one experiment at the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging, a test subject lies down inside a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine, and uses a simulator to drive a car along a winding road, like playing a video game. While steering, the driver hears a voice in his earphones making statements, and has to decide whether they're true or false, while continuing to pilot the car. Listening and driving make demands on different parts of the brain. Yet, apparently, there are finite resources to go around. "You have two moderately automatic tasks, executing concurrently and drawing on the same resource pool," explains Just.
She goes on to explain how cell chatter may actually cause traffic jams and worsen rush-hour slow-downs. People deep in conversation with a valued client are less likely to pass a slow driver, for example.
Using a cell while driving is not your constitutional right! Get over yourself and pull over!