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No, You Can't Text While Driving

Update Date: Jan 24, 2013 08:46 AM EST

Most people believe that they can multitask effectively and so don't see anything wrong in texting and talking over the phone while driving. A new study shows that not only people generally perform badly while multitasking, but people who think they are good at multitasking are often the ones who can't keep track of multiple events.

"The people who are most likely to multitask harbor the illusion they are better than average at it, when in fact they are no better than average and often worse," said David Strayer, senior author of the study from University of Utah in a news release.

The study included 310 undergraduate students (176 females and 134 males) who were subjected to various tests that assessed their ability to multitask, personality traits, ability to use different electronic devices and their perception of their own multitasking abilities.

Researchers found that impulsive people and those who constantly seek thrills are the ones who multitask while driving. And, people who are actually good at multitasking don't really do many things at once.

The study also found that people who tend to multitask are not the ones who are good at it but they are more likely to be the people who can't keep distractions away while focusing on a single task.

Nearly 15 people die each day and more than 1,200 are injured due to people who are distracted while driving, says Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although distracted driving includes using phones while driving, talking to other people in the vehicle, eating, drinking and using navigation tools, it is texting, CDC says that causes more accidents. Texting involves visual, manual and cognitive distractions.

About 9 percent of all drivers in the U.S report that they text, either regularly or fairly often, while driving. More than a quarter of these distracted drivers are between 18 and 29 years.

"The negative relation between cellular communication while driving and multitasking ability appears to further bolster arguments for legislation limiting the use of cell phones while operating a motor vehicle," researchers added.

The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.  

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