Multitasking today is quite common, to the point it became unthinkable to manage a day successfully without multitasking. And it makes sense, right? The more you can accomplish in the same amount of time, makes more successful.
Thus, productivity has become something we all strive towards. We are adamant about using every minute of our day to send another email, answer another call or finish a chore.
Still, when multitasking is used when it shouldn’t be, like driving, for instance, it can be dangerous. Even when people know it’s dangerous, they still drive absent-minded thinking about work or family issues. The time spend driving becomes the free time we need to arrange the next phase of our day. The problem is – this habit can rob us of that day and days to come altogether.
The Definition of Multitasking
According to the American Psychology Association, multitasking is defined as performing two tasks simultaneously, switching from one task to another, or working on two or more tasks rapidly.
Those who do all of this simultaneously, like listening to music while working and eating at the same time, are called ”heavy multitaskers”. And while it may seem that multitasking makes us more productive and saving us time by doing multiple tasks at once, it actually makes us much slower.
According to VeryWellMind, all that switching between tasks reduces our productivity by 40% and makes it very difficult for us to concentrate.
The Effect of Multitasking on our Brain
To fully understand what goes on with our brain while we multitask, we must first understand how our brain works. Many scientists and researchers tried to unveil the secrets of the brain, and thanks to the three brilliant Ph.D.’s, we now have more insight into the control process of our brain. Back in 2001, Joshua Rubinstein, David Meyer, and Jeffrey Evans conducted an experiment that showed that our brains have two stages when it comes to the control process.
The ”Goal Shifting” process happens when our brain is trying to prioritize one task over another. In other words, during this phase, our brain is choosing which task is more important. Then comes the ”Rule Activation” phase process, when our brain sets out all the rules which should be applied for completing the task it chooses as the most important.
So, every time you switch between tasks, your brain needs to decide on a new task and set ground rules for it, simultaneously turning off the rules for the previous task.
How Multitasking Affects Our Driving Skills?
Now, there are some tasks that our brain can shift between without a glitch, like texting while watching TV.
However, it can be quite dangerous when you insert a big task such as driving into the equation. Every time you text while driving, once you switch back to driving only, your brain needs more time to ”load” the list of rules for this task. This interim is when most driving accidents tend to happen.
No matter if your brain takes only a couple of seconds to ”reload” and focus on driving, if you were talking on your phone a minute ago, you missed around 50% of your environment during that call.
In order for your brain to focus on your phone call, it had to take half of your focus from the task you were already performing, that is, driving. This statistic applies even when we count in the hands-free technology or other features found in modern-day vehicles.
The dangers of multitasking increase if there are any children in the car. As a parent, your senses are always in tune with what your child is doing behind you. So when you travel with children, you are already a bit distracted on some subconscious level.
Still, this does not increase car accident possibility if you don’t broaden the scope of your multitasking with trying to calm down your child or help them reach the toy on the seat next to them. It is always better to pull over and help your child with whatever it needs than to do it while driving.
The same applies to other passengers. You can drive while chewing gum, but getting into an argument with your passenger or even being present while the passengers are arguing can be considered a distraction.
Multitasking While Driving Examples
Even if you don’t see a particular action or behavior as distracting, the following examples of multitasking can be considered as distracting and potentially dangerous:
- Texting either on your phone or tablet
- Playing a video game on your phone
- Talking on your phone while holding it with your hand (ho hands-free device)
- Daydreaming (or zoning out)
- Eating (take-away)
2021 California Driving Law: AB 47
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017 alone, distracted driving was the cause of 3,177 car accident fatalities. The trend continued throughout the years, and the number of fatalities didn’t reach the sky simply because hands-free technologies and features became mandatory and somewhat a norm.
Of course, it goes without saying that cell phone use during driving, one of the most basic forms of multitasking, is, in fact, one of the biggest causes of distracted driver car accidents.
Californians, due to the fast tempo of the whole country, frequently use smartphones while driving. In the past, this has caused many traffic collisions, which resulted in severe injuries and accidents.
According to an experienced Los Angeles car accident attorney, one out of every five car accidents happens because a driver was using their smartphone.This is why California has been boosting the AB 47 law, imposing additional penalties on drivers who violate that already existing hands-free law. Starting July 1, 2021, AB 47 will be much stricter.
Now, those who use their smartphones while driving in California without a hands-free system will have to pay a fine and will receive a point on their driving record lasting for a minimum of 36 months.