Bob Ragazzo is a certified Defensive Driving Instructor, and the founder of 2 online driver training
Teenagers think it’s cool to multi-task. They’re masters at it. They watch TV, surf the Internet, text their friends and do their homework — all at the same time.
It’s almost like a badge of honor to them to see how much they can do at once.
Unfortunately, many teens include driving among their multi-tasking list -- and that’s a critical mistake.
Research has repeatedly shown that the human mind isn't built for multi-tasking. In fact, the research indicates that multitasking may even have long-term harmful effects on brain function.
One example of this comes from a study by Stanford University authored by Adam Gorlick and researche by the late Clifford Nass. Professor Nass performed experiments with 262 college students that required them to switch tasks, filter irrelevant information and use working memory. The expectation was that the multitasking students would outperform those that didn’t multitask—at least on some of the activities.
Instead, the results were exactly the opposite. Multitasking students were abysmal at all three tasks. What was even more alarming was that only one experiment actually involved multitasking. That told Nass that even when they focus on a single activity, those who frequently multitask actually use their brains less effectively.
When it comes to driving, multi-tasking is a real problem. Piloting a two-ton vehicle through traffic, you must be ready for the unexpected:
- What if the car in front of me blows a tire?
- What if the driver next to me is reading a text and swerves into my lane?
Despite what we have been conditioned to believe, driving is scientific, and requires a high level of concentration (but only if we care about arriving safely.)
When your teen is moving at a mile a minute, the brief distraction brought on by drinking coffee, adjusting the stereo, answering a phone call or checking a text—even if it only takes a split second—is enough time for something to happen that could change your teen’s life forever.
Our young drivers may pride themselves on their ability to do multiple things at once. Even worse, they may multi-task without even giving it a second thought. But when it comes to driving, it’s crucial that you impress on your teen to adopt a pilot's mentality when they get behind the wheel.
Continually remind them that when they operate a motor vehicle they take on a huge responsibility, not just to themselves, but to their passenger (remember the GDL law), the other drivers on the road, and the 5 people in their lives who would be devastated if they were seriously injured or killed.
This is not just something we need to talk about--it’s an example we all need to set for our kids, starting today. Children actually learn to drive from the time they are toddlers, just by watching us!
Here's a life-saving tip: Put the phone in the glove box or the trunk, before you go, and insist that your teens do the same. Each of our lives is important - much too important to be lost because of a text, a phone call or some other distraction.
When we are driving, we push our brain to the limit – IF we are doing it correctly. Whatever the distraction, it needs to be left at the curb before we pull away.
Stay Safe Out There!
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