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Press Release

Study measures cognitive distraction in drivers

In Louisiana, 425 people died in a crash so far this year within the parishes, according to Louisiana State University.
November 13, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- People in New Orleans, Louisiana, often have a number of things on their mind when they are driving. Many have likely had the experience of missing an exit or taking the wrong street because they are thinking about something else. Some drivers may have survived near-collisions while others may actually have caused a car accident.
Distraction and car accidents
In Louisiana, 425 people died in a crash so far this year within the parishes, according to Louisiana State University. It is unknown how many of these deaths were caused by a driver who was distracted by something but distracted driving was likely a factor in some of them. reports that in 2011, 387,000 people suffered injuries in collisions caused by a driver who was distracted and 3,331 other people died. The most risky behavior that drivers can engage in is texting because it requires people to take their eyes off of the road in front of them, their hands off of the wheel and their mind off of the task of driving. However, while there have been several studies done that center on manual and visual distractions, little information was previously available when it came to cognitive distraction.
Cognitive distraction
A new study, released by the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety, provides the first in-depth look at cognitive distraction, according to USA Today. The study used three different environments in which to test their participants and these environments were a lab, a driving simulator and an instrumented vehicle. The participants were outfitted with technology designed to measure their brave waves as well as record their driving behaviors.
During the study experiments, participants were asked to do a number of tasks while driving such as:
- Talking on a cell phone
- Using a voice-to-text email system
- Listen to an audio book
- Chat with a passenger
- Listen to the radio
- Use a hands-free cell phone
To establish a rating system, participants were first asked to do nothing but focus on the task of driving. This allowed researchers to create a rating scale to fully understand how different tasks affect a driver's mind differently.
Hands-free tasks no safer than hand-held devices
One of the biggest findings that researchers made from the experiments was the fact that hands-free tasks produced the highest cognitive distraction for drivers. This means that a driver could keep their hands and eyes focused on driving but if their mind is thinking of other things, they can find themselves missing important cues and taking longer to react to sudden situations.
The experiments showed that when a driver's mind is busy with another task, they do not scan the road as often, which can put them at risk of getting into an accident. Accidents involving distraction can leave victims with serious injuries. In such cases, victims should discuss their case with a qualified attorney to understand what their legal rights are regarding seeking compensation.
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