National Safety Month: Multitasking on the Road is Distracted Driving

NSC Technologies


In today’s day in age, it’s difficult to focus on one thing at a time. We’ve become used to the idea of multitasking, to the point we depend on it to be able to get our work done. Although it can be useful at times, multitasking behind the wheel isn’t one of those times.

We already have a lot to take care of when we drive; between continually processing our surroundings, coordinating our movements and navigating our way to our destination. Simply adding in a phone conversation or playing music can often lead to a dangerous situation.

What is happening when we multitask?

When you concentrate on something, the front portion of the brain, called the prefrontal cortex, takes command. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for keeping you on the task in front of you while it enlists other sections of the brain to get the task finished.

Both the left and the right sides work together to achieve a common objective. However, when we try to multitask, the two sides operate independently, research has shown. Research has also indicated that multitasking leads to a higher error rate.

Multitasking behind the wheel

If you drive to and from work every day, the trip becomes so automatic, your thoughts will often drift off as you are driving. This phenomenon is completely normal and is known as brain plasticity. This same phenomenon allows us to ride a bike after we’ve learned how to do it.

Brain plasticity also allows us to do many things while we’re driving a car, such as pressing the accelerator, scanning the scene around us and switching on a turn signal. The problems come when we make a conscious effort to do as many different tasks as possible. When we load up the brain with tasks, we ask it to keep the “automated” processes going, as well as make a phone call, for instance. The more we ask of the brain, the less its capable of doing at the same time. This results in a greater chance for error, which can be a deadly error behind the wheel.

You might think you have great multitasking skills but looking at your phone for only a handful of seconds can be deadly. For instance, when you glance at your phone for five seconds while going 55 mph, you’re essentially traveling the length of a football field while blindfolded.

According to data from the National Safety Council, around 1.6 million accidents each year are caused by phone use, or one out of every four accidents. If you’re lucky, multitasking on the road only ends in a fender bender. However, far too often it ends in the loss of a life. Every day, nine Americans are killed due to distracted driving.

At NSC Technologies, we’re marking National Safety Month by reminding all our drivers to be safe on the road. If you’re currently looking to work with a staffing company that keeps safety top of mind year round, please contact us today.


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