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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 October 23, 2018

      Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

      Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

      My mother was a great knitter and produced some wonderful garments such as Aran sweaters which were extremely fashionable when I was young. She also knitted while my father drove, which caused great amusement. I often wondered why she did that but I think I know the answer now.

      Knitting is good for your mental health, according to some research studies. The Washington Post mentions a 2013 survey of about 3,500 knitters who were asked how they felt after a knitting session. Over 80% of them said they definitely felt happier. It is not a totally female occupation as more and more men take it up to get the same benefits. Harry Styles (One Direction) enjoys knitting. So does Russell Crowe although he does it to help him with anger management!

      The Neural Knitwork Project

      In Australia, Neural Knitworks was started to encourage people to knit and also become aware of neuroscience and mental health issues. Knit-ins were organized but garments were not the only things created. The knitters produced handmade neurons (1,665 of them!) to make a giant brain. The 2015 project will make more neural knitted networks (neural knitworks) and they will be visible online. You can see some more examples of woolly neurons on the Neural Knitworks Facebook page.

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      While people knitted, crocheted and crafted yarn, they listened to experts talking about mental health issues such as addiction, dementia, depression, and how neurons work.

      The knitting and neural connection

      The human brain has about 80 billion neurons. Learning new skills, social interaction, and physical activity all help to forge neural connections which keep the brain healthy and active. They are creating networks to control movement and make memories. The knitters learn that as they create the woollen neurons, their own neurons are forming new pathways in their brains. Their creations are mimicking the processes in their brains to a certain extent. At the same time, their brains are registering new and interesting information as they learn interesting facts about the brain and how it works. I love the knitworks and networks pun. What a brilliant idea!

      More mental health benefits from knitting

      Betsan Corkhill is a physiotherapist and has published some results of completed studies on her website, appropriately named Stitchlinks. She conducted some experiments herself and found that knitting was really helpful in reducing panic and anxiety attacks.

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      “You are using up an awful lot of brain capacity to perform a coordinated series of movements. The more capacity you take up by being involved in a complex task, the less capacity you have for bad thoughts.”- Betsan Corkhill

      Knitters feel happier and in a better mood

      Ann Futterman-Collier, Well Being Lab at Northern Arizona University, is very interested in how textile therapy (sewing, knitting, weaving and lace-making) can play an important role in mood repair and in lifting depressive states.

      She researched 60 women and divided them into three different groups to do some writing, meditating and work with textiles. She monitored their heartbeat, blood pressure and saliva production. The women in the textiles group had the best results when their mood was assessed afterwards. They were in a better mood and had managed to reduce their negative thoughts better than those in the writing and meditation groups.

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      “People who were given the task to make something actually had less of an inflammatory response in the face of a ‘stressor’.” – Dr. Futterman Collier

      The dopamine effect on our happiness

      Our brains produce a chemical called dopamine. This helps us to feel happy, more motivated, and assists also with focus and concentration. We get a boost of dopamine after sex, food, exercise, sleep, and creative activities.

      There are medications to increase dopamine but there are lots of ways we can do it naturally. Textile therapy and crafting are the easiest and cheapest. We can create something and then admire it. In addition, this allows for a little bit of praise and congratulations. Although this is likely not your goal, all these can boost our dopamine and we just feel happier and more fulfilled. These are essential in facing new challenges and coping with disappointment in life.

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      “Sometimes, people come up to me when I am knitting and they say things like, “Oh, I wish I could knit, but I’m just not the kind of person who can sit and waste time like that.” How can knitting be wasting time? First, I never just knit; I knit and think, knit and listen, knit and watch. Second, you aren’t wasting time if you get a useful or beautiful object at the end of it.” – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much.

      If you thought knitting and textiles were for old ladies, think again!

      Featured photo credit: DSC_0012/Mary-Frances Main via flickr.com

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