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Who’s at the Wheel? Technology Causing Distracted Driving and Other Stories of Multi-Tasking

Who’s at the Wheel? Technology Causing Distracted Driving and Other Stories of Multi-Tasking

    When drivers are on the road, they often seem to forget that they are not in their living room, kitchen, or bedroom. As the average car weight is in the two-ton range (up to 4,000 lbs) and with the casual attention some drivers give to their driving, it is no surprise that accidents occur on the highways.

    Despite the devotion to multitasking, recent reports claim that humans function better if they don’t multi-task. That is proven often with some of the things that happen when people get behind the wheel of a car.

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    Paying Attention to the Rules of the Road

    Most states have rules against driving distracted, not to mention driving drunk.

    In the Texas Driver’s Handbook, a distraction is defined as “anything that takes the driver’s attention from the driving task.” Distractions are more common than people think. And focusing on more than one thing — multitasking — actually has a negative effect on a person’s performance.

    One Thing at a Time

    Although driving for experienced drivers can be called “unconscious competent,” considering their mastery as having some measure of control, drivers took longer to reach their destinations if they used cell phones.

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    Since our brains really handle multitasking by “task switching,” says author Guy Winch in his book, we really only have a finite amount of attention we can devote to a task and be productive.[1]

    The Appeal of Multitasking With Apps

    People describe multitaskers with a sense of awe at all they accomplish. The converse is that doing only one thing at a time is almost seen as though someone is a slacker. Why can’t you compile your household shopping list while you help your child with their homework? Talking with someone while you text is seen as normal. So, driving and doing something else is seen as a commonplace multitasking action.

    Trouble Behind the Wheel

    Statistics bear out the idea that young drivers cause much of the damage. Drivers in their 20s are 24 percent of drivers in all fatal crashes, but are 27 percent of the distracted drivers, and 33 percent of the distracted drivers that were using cell phones in fatal crashes.[2]

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    Just such a crash involved a 22-year-old male who was using his Apple iPhone to FaceTime while driving.[3] He lost control of his car, killing a five-year-old and injuring her father.

      Because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far one of the most alarming distractions.[4] In a survey noted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ad Council’s joint text alert trouble website, the 2015 survey “found that one-third of drivers admitted to texting while driving, and three-quarters saying they’ve seen others do it.”

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      A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) survey claims that sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving blind at 55-mph for the length of an entire football field.[5] That is long enough to do damage on a road and potentially put other drivers and yourself at risk for danger.

      Staying Tech-Free and Distraction-Free

      Texting, talking, and otherwise multitasking on cell phones is rampant while driving. Some apps have added in standard safety features that disable features while the user is traveling over a certain speed limit in order to try to alleviate the dangers. However, the best way to stay safe while driving is simply to put the phone away and pull over if you need to send a text or answer a call.

      Taking your eyes off the road, even for a second, can result in an accident. Playing the odds on when someone does take their eyes off the road is a gamble. All too often people take the gamble. Sometimes they lose and when they do, they often lose a life too.

      The many accidents that occur in rush hour traffic show that, despite most drivers knowing the route they take to work every day, they choose to engage in distracted driving that causes those accidents. Illogical? Yes, Mr. Spock would agree.

      Featured photo credit: shutterstock via shutterstock.com

      Reference

      [1]Health: 12 Reasons to Stop Multitasking Now!
      [2]Stop Texts Stop Wrecks: Driving Facts
      [3]Thomas J Henry Law: Lawsuit Filed Against Apple In Fatal FaceTime Crash
      [4]Stop Texts Stop Wrecks: Driving Facts
      [5]Stop Texts Stop Wrecks: Driving Facts

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      Last Updated on December 2, 2018

      How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

      How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

      Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

      The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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      The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

      Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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      Review Your Past Flow

      Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

      Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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      Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

      Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

      Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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      Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

      Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

      We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

      Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

        Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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