Texting While Driving: We'Re Really Bad at It, but We Think We'Re Good

In: Historical Events

Submitted By candy12
Words 424
Pages 2
Think you're pretty good at texting while driving? According to a new study, you have no idea how bad you actually are. Researchers at Ohio State University asked college kids to complete two visual tasks similar to driving and texting, and compared their performance with students attempting one audio and one visual task similar to talking on the phone while driving. The texters not only performed worse than the talkers—no surprise—but they also rated their performance better.

"Many people have this overconfidence in how well they can multitask, and our study shows that this particularly is the case when they combine two visual tasks," says Zheng Wang, lead author on the study and assistant professor of communication at Ohio State. The results are in line with previous work that suggest that drivers overestimate their ability to multitask.

The participants attempting two visual tasks had to complete a pattern-matching puzzle on a computer screen while typing walking directions to a person over Google Chat, an instant-messaging (IM) system. Students were told the person needing directions was another student named Jennifer. The students tasked with the combined audio and visual tasks had to complete the same computer puzzle while verbally giving directions to Jennifer using Google Talk, a voice chat system. The students were also asked to do the computer puzzle with no distractions.

The two multitasking scenarios can be compared to what drivers face, says Wang. People who text while driving are combining two mostly visual tasks, and people who talk while driving are combining audio and visual tasks.

The results showed that multitasking of either kind—audio or visual—seriously hurt performance. Participants who gave audio directions showed a 30 percent drop in performance on the pattern-matching puzzle. But those who typed directions did even worse: a 50…...

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