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Distracted driving expert: 'Multitasking is a myth'

We humans have an almost unlimited ability to fool ourselves. Sometimes the self-deception is harmless (a man might believe a combover truly does hide baldness) and sometimes the deception can cause great harm.

An illustration of a harmful deception is known as "multitasking." Many of us wrongly believe that we can competently do more than one thing at a time. Yet an expert on distracted driving says "multitasking is a myth" and that belief in the myth leads to car accidents.

Distracted driving causes accidents on a regular basis here in Rochester. It's not difficult to find motorists talking on cellphones or texting while they drive. Far too often, the end result is violent collisions between vehicles, leaving people with serious injuries.

The president of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation says we fool ourselves into thinking we can multitask while behind the wheel. The reality is, she says, that we are "only capable of consciously focusing on one task at a time."

When we're driving, that one task is to safely maneuver our vehicle and any passengers from Point A to Point B.

Recent research shows that it takes 33.6 seconds to type out a text message, 26.7 seconds to adjust a GPS device and 10.6 seconds to answer a call on a cell phone. 

Another study shows that 80 percent of all traffic crashes happen when drivers look away from the road for just three seconds (or less).

Life can change for accident injury victims in those few seconds. Medical expenses, lost wages, physical therapy bills and much more await many of them.

The first step in holding the distracted driver responsible for their actions is to have a conversation with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Source: Globe and Mail, "Distracted driving: 'Multitasking is a myth'," March 5, 2014

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