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Driving & Cell Phones

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Driving & Cell Phones

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
June 16, 2008

Still think it's safe to drive your car and use a cellular telephone? At the same time?

The other day I was stopped on Calhoun at Madison, waiting for cross-traffic to clear. You know that intersection; right? It's the one where the railroad tracks not only cross Madison, but they also cross Calhoun. Westbound traffic on Calhoun often busts up the grade and over the tracks, descending on the intersection at too great a rate of speed and with little care for traffic crossing on Madison.

Along comes a car from the east, over the tracks and toward the intersection. And what gets in the way? A driver (it happened to be a woman this time, but I've seen men do that same thing) on her cell phone started up northbound on Madison from the stop sign. And she didn't even get in a hurry to cross Calhoun after the driver suddenly appeared to her right. Fortunately, he got on the brakes quickly and stopped just in time. He had to come to a full stop and wait while she slowly crossed the intersection.

I was reminded of a newscast recently, when a researcher at the University of South Carolina was interviewed about his project - a study of brainwave activity when a driver is on a cellular phone. According to an article posted on the USC website, Dr. Amit Almor "conducts research on language and memory (the brain’s ability to acquire, organize, revise and store information)."

Surprise! The brain can't do two things at the same time. No kidding!

If you'd like to read a summary of his research, go to http://uscnews.sc.edu/2008/05232008-PSYC186.html And, if you'd like to read his article in the Experimental Psychology journal, the link for that is at the end of the USC article.

I don't argue that a cell phone can be used safely by a driver, but the driver must increase his attention to his driving and recognize the additional risks when he divides his attention between driving and chatting away on a cell phone.


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